This year, World Malaria Day takes place during difficult and unprecedented times.
Our health systems have never been more challenged, and years of progress against malaria are at risk.
Since 2000, coordinated efforts against malaria have saved more than 7 million lives and prevented over 1 billion new infections.
Earlier this year, we reached the milestone of 2 billion mosquito nets distributed across the world. These nets have helped prevent almost 70% of all malaria cases in Africa since 2000.
Today, more countries than ever before are within reach of elimination, and several, including El Salvador, China and Timor Leste, are already at zero indigenous malaria cases.
However, as long as malaria exists, it threatens the poorest and the most vulnerable. It is also a disease that can resurge in times of public health crises – like the one facing us right now.
As COVID-19 spreads across the globe we must ensure that efforts to contain the virus do not compromise access to life-saving malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services.
Current investments in the malaria fight are saving almost 600,000 lives and preventing nearly 100 million new infections compared to 2000 levels.
Divert this funding or place holds on malaria interventions that could be safely carried out now and we could see an exponential increase in deaths from malaria this year.
In the face of COVID-19, countries must move fast with malaria prevention and treatment measures that could save hundreds of thousands of lives – especially children under 5 and pregnant women who are most at risk.
Doing so now, before the rainy season, will save lives and prevent a surge in malaria cases that will overburden health systems—our first line of defence against existing and emerging health threats.
The current pandemic will have profound implications for our economies and societies. We welcome recent debt relief announcements from multilateral and bilateral donors, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the G20, in response to COVID-19.
This World Malaria Day, we thank all those working on the frontlines to tackle malaria and other deadly diseases. We also urge all countries to sustain investments in the malaria fight to save lives, protect our hard-fought progress, and strengthen our health systems.
I wish you all to stay healthy and safe this World Malaria Day.