Key Messages and Talking Points
- This World Malaria Day, it is critical we equip health workers to safely continue malaria control programs – both to save lives from malaria and to reduce the strain on systems for health struggling to battle the new COVID-19 pandemic.
- We must urgently shore up the world’s systems for health, particularly in the most vulnerable countries, to prevent COVID-19 from devastating communities and derailing lifesaving malaria programs.
- Diseases know no borders, and the COVID-19 pandemic makes clear that our global health security is only as strong as the world’s weakest health system.
- The fight against malaria is one of the biggest public health successes of the 21st century. Global malaria death rates have dropped by 60% since 2000 – translating to millions of lives saved.
- But after years of steady declines, the number of malaria cases is on the rise – and the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to further derail hard-won gains.
- Funding has plateaued and progress has stalled, risking a resurgence of the disease and loss of hard-fought gains.
- With COVID-19 spreading across malaria endemic areas, countries are trying to minimize transmission of this novel coronavirus – potentially delaying or cancelling critically needed prevention programs like distribution of mosquito nets.
- There is a real and growing risk that malaria deaths will rise during the COVID-19 outbreak, if malaria control programs are postponed, and parents refrain from taking sick children to health clinics out of fear of COVID-19 infection.
- The Global Fund is providing critically needed funds so countries can buy protective equipment like masks and sanitizing gel for health workers so they can safely continue lifesaving malaria programs. For example, Benin is launching a mosquito net distribution campaign in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis – with protective equipment to protect workers and communities from the virus.
- Malaria has shown that we must stay ahead of it to eliminate it. The Global Fund is investing in new tools, partnerships and innovations to pilot new mosquito nets to combat insecticide resistance and make our interventions more cost-effective.
- We have the tools and treatments to prevent and cure malaria. This is a fight we can win, if we build and maintain unwavering commitment.
- Malaria, caused by a parasite spread by certain types of mosquitoes, is among the deadliest diseases in human history.
- In 2018, there were 228 million cases and 405,000 deaths from malaria, with Africa accounting for 94% of all deaths. Pregnant women and children under age 5 are most at risk. In 2018, children under 5 accounted for 67% of all malaria deaths worldwide. A child still dies every two minutes from malaria.
- Malaria is present in more than 80 countries, and these increasingly fall into one of two categories: those progressing toward elimination and those with a high burden of malaria that are plateauing in their response.
- The Global Fund provides 65% of all international financing for malaria, and has invested more than US$12.5 billion in malaria control programs as of December 2019, using a comprehensive approach that combines: prevention through use of mosquito nets, spraying structures with insecticide and preventive treatment for children and pregnant women; diagnosis, including supplying rapid diagnostic tests to community health workers; treatment; and education about symptoms, prevention and treatment.
- Stronger health systems are critical in the fight against malaria. This includes enhanced case finding and access to treatment to interrupt malaria transmission and achieve elimination. The investment to eliminate malaria will pay dividends beyond one disease, by alleviating a significant burden on resource-constrained health systems.
- Communities play a central role in strengthening responses to malaria and new outbreaks like COVID-19. For example, in the Mekong region networks of village and mobile malaria workers are equipped with knowledge and resources to promote prevention activities, as well as test for and treat cases. They then report cases to the government, so health professionals can follow up and prevent a case from becoming an outbreak. Support for community systems and responses is a key component of the Global Fund’s mission.
- We must make the fight against malaria and emerging health threats equitable, rights-based and people-centered. Certain populations are especially vulnerable and have significantly less access to services due to factors such as socio-economic status, harmful gender norms, stigma, discrimination and systematic disenfranchisement.
- As the world responds to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, fragile health systems make countries less able to coordinate, respond to and contain an outbreak.
- To end malaria and fight emerging threats like COVID-19 we must renew our commitment to strengthen the systems for health that are critical for both. Strengthening health systems is a strategic pillar of the Global Fund. The Global Fund is the largest multilateral financer to strengthen systems for health, investing over US$1 billion per year, from training of health personnel, to improved supply chain and data quality, to service delivery integration.
Key results in countries where the Global Fund invests in 2018:
- 131 million mosquito nets distributed to protect families from malaria.
- 9.4 million pregnant women received preventative therapy.
- 6.7 million structures covered by indoor residual spraying.
- 220 million suspected cases tested for malaria.
- 110 million cases of malaria treated.
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Social Media Messages
On #WorldMalariaDay, it is critical we support health workers to continue the fight to #EndMalaria – both to save lives from malaria and reduce strain on systems for health struggling to battle #COVID19. #UniteToFight
On #WorldMalariaDay, it is critical to equip health workers to safely fight #malaria & #COVID19. @GlobalFund is providing immediate funds to countries to buy protective equipment like masks and sanitizing gel to support health workers on the frontlines. #UniteToFight
After years of progress, malaria cases are on the rise – and #COVID19 threatens to further derail hard-won gains. We have the tools & treatments to prevent and cure malaria. This is a fight we can win. To #EndMalaria & help communities fight COVID-19, we need to #UniteToFight.
Malaria has shown that we must stay ahead of it to eliminate it. To #EndMalaria as an epidemic and fight emerging threats like #COVID19 we need to strengthen the systems for health that are critical to fighting both. #WorldMalariaDay #UniteToFight
Around the world, health workers are on the frontlines to #EndMalaria and help communities fight #COVID19. On #WorldMalariaDay we applaud health workers for their tireless work to #savelives. #ThankYou
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Photo Credits: Vincent Becker, John Rae, Andrew Esiebo, Karin Schermbrucker, Joubert Loots