Every two minutes, a child under the age of 5 dies from malaria. Under-five children accounted for 67 per cent of all malaria deaths worldwide in 2018. Most of them occurred in sub-Saharan Africa where an estimated 24 million children were infected with its deadliest form. In addition to being the third-deadliest infectious disease for children, malaria infection and the costs of treatment traps families in a cycle of illness, suffering and poverty.
This year’s World Malaria Day is marred by the emergence of the COVID-19 outbreak, which further threatens people’s lives and well-being. Public health officials are taking precautionary and often aggressive measures to limit transmission of this virus, including reductions in social movement, physical distancing, hand-washing and recommending the use of personal protection equipment in high-risk settings. However, while focusing on combating this disease, the world cannot afford to ignore other diseases, such as malaria.
The cover note below uses the latest available data to give a status update of the threats malaria still poses to children. It warns about the dangers of a COVID-19 and malaria overlap, which may lead to highly lethal consequences, especially for children under 5 years of age. In addition, the country-level snapshots give information on the burden of malaria as well as prevention, diagnosis and treatment efforts for 10 high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa.