The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), a Pan-African media advocacy group of journalists and scientists working to rid the world of malaria, has urged stakeholders not to abandon the fight against the disease.
The Network warns against diversion of funds set aside for activities such as prevention, diagnosis, treatment and control of the disease.
“Doing so will have serious implications for the elimination of malaria or even lead to a resurgence of malaria cases, especially in the malaria-endemic countries in Africa,” Dr Charity Binka, Executive Secretary of AMMREN, said in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
It was to mark the 2020 World Malaria Day, a global event to create awareness on the control and elimination of malaria and acknowledge the current challenge with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement said the disease had brought in its wake a strain on national budgets and health systems including upheavals on the entire socio-economic lives of people and nations across the globe.
“Not only are huge resources being channelled into the fight against the coronavirus disease but health workers are working under severe stress, health systems and medical supplies are overstretched, job losses are on the rise and businesses are shutting down due to the pandemic,” the statement said.
“Worse of all, resources that should be going into handling other preventable diseases such as malaria are most likely being diverted to deal with the current pandemic”.
It, however, noted that as the world marked the Day, global leaders should also take stock of the gains made on malaria control and the gaps to be filled to save the lives of many vulnerable populations, especially children from a preventable and treatable disease.
The statement said the commemoration of the 2020 World Malaria Day, on the theme: “Zero Malaria Starts with Me,” called for concerted efforts to deal with the disease.
It urged stakeholders such as traditional rulers, community and opinion leaders, churches and local civil society organisations to lend their support to the awareness creation efforts of governments.
The statement urged citizens to continue to observe malaria prevention and control activities including the use of treated bed nets and testing before treatment.
“This is also time for the strengthening of various mechanisms to make quality healthcare for the control of diseases such as malaria accessible and affordable,” it said.
“With political will and commitment of all, the war against malaria will be won. COVID-19 cannot be an excuse to forget about malaria”.