Fighting COVID-19 at the Expense of Malaria in Africa: The Consequences and Policy Options.

11 Nov 2020
Aborode AT, David KB, Uwishema O, Nathaniel AL, Imisioluwa JO, Onigbinde SB, Farooq F

Malaria remains a major global health burden, killing hundreds of thousands annually, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In December 2019, a novel illness termed COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, was reported in China. This disease soon spread around the world and was declared a pandemic by the WHO on March 11, 2020. Considering that the malaria burden is high in many low-income tropical countries with little capacity to fund malaria control and eradication programs, the fight against malaria in these regions is likely to be hindered by COVID-19. Indeed, access to health care has generally been limited during the pandemic, whereas malaria interventions, such as seasonal malaria chemoprevention, and distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, have been suspended because of lockdowns. Likewise, the repurposing of antimalarials for the treatment of COVID-19 and a shift in focus from the production of malaria rapid diagnostic tests to COVID-19 rapid diagnostic tests are causes for concern in malaria-endemic regions. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected developed countries, threatening their capacity to aid in malaria control efforts. Here, we address impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the management and control of malaria in Africa.