A new report by the World Health Organisation has shown that an estimated 619,000 malaria-related deaths were recorded globally in 2021.
The report also showed that 247 million malaria cases were recorded in 2021, compared to 245 million in 2020 and 232 million in 2019.
The new statistics tagged ‘World malaria report 2022’ noted that countries around the world largely held the line against further setbacks to malaria prevention, testing and treatment services in 2021.
It indicated that despite the continued impact of COVID-19, malaria cases and deaths remained stable in 2021.
The report read, “There were an estimated 619,000 malaria deaths globally in 2021 compared to 625,000 in the first year of the pandemic. In 2019, before the pandemic struck, the number of deaths stood at 568,000.”
The report quoted the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, as saying, “Following a marked increase in malaria cases and deaths in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, malaria-affected countries redoubled their efforts and were able to mitigate the worst impacts of COVID-related disruptions to malaria services.
“We face many challenges, but there are many reasons for hope. By strengthening the response, understanding and mitigating the risks, building resilience, and accelerating research, there is every reason to dream of a malaria-free future.”
In 2021, Insecticide Treated Nets distributions were strong overall and at similar levels to pre-pandemic years: 171 million ITNs were planned for distribution and 128 million (75 per cent) were distributed.
However, eight countries—Benin, Eritrea, Indonesia, Nigeria, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Uganda, and Vanuatu—distributed less than 60 per cent of their ITNs, and seven countries—Botswana, the Central African Republic, Chad, Haiti, India, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone—did not distribute any ITNs.
Meanwhile, the WHO said most countries succeeded in maintaining malaria testing and treatment during the pandemic.
“Despite supply chain and logistical challenges during the pandemic, malaria-endemic countries distributed a record number of rapid diagnostic tests to health facilities in 2020. In 2021, countries distributed 223 million RDTs, a similar level to that reported before the pandemic.
“Artemisinin-based combination therapies are the most effective treatment for P. falciparum malaria. Malaria-endemic countries delivered an estimated 242 million ACTs worldwide in 2021, compared to 239 million ACTs in 2019,” the WHO said.