One of the hard lessons the World Health Organization learned during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was this: Other diseases can be forgotten and take a deadlier toll.
The WHO is now warning that the battle against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, where it already kills hundreds of thousands of people a year, could be set back by 20 years as countries focus energy and resources on containing the coronavirus.
The WHO said new projections indicate that in a worst-case scenario, 769,000 people could die of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa this year as campaigns to combat it are interrupted. That’s more than double the deaths in the last detailed count two years ago, when more than 360,000 people died, and would be the worst figures for the region since 2000.
“We must not turn back the clock,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said Thursday.
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While health experts express fears that the coronavirus pandemic could erode the global fight against many diseases, sub-Saharan Africa is by far the worst affected by malaria. It had 93% of the world’s cases and 94% of deaths in 2018,