The hunt for a cure for COVID-19 draws attention to another “forgotten” health crisis that continues to claim more than 400,000 lives around the world every year — mosquito-borne malaria.
As some political leaders and doctors suggest readily available antimalarial drugs may be beneficial in treating coronavirus patients, Gospel for Asia and other organizations are highlighting the much-overlooked “deadly scourge” of malaria.
World Malaria Day — an annual awareness event — which took place April 25 and malaria-fighting organizations like GFA are eager to see that the ongoing battle against the mosquito-spread menace doesn’t get ignored or forgotten because of COVID-19.
Almost half the world’s population is at risk from malaria — spread by infected mosquitoes — and children under five years are the most vulnerable, says a new GFA World report, titled Mosquito-Driven Scourge Touches Even Developed Nations.
Despite the effectiveness of anti-malarial drugs like chloroquine — recently touted as a treatment for coronavirus — malaria still kills more than 400,000 people worldwide every year, more than double the global coronavirus death toll to date.
Each year, there are more than 200 million reported cases of malaria, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. So far, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide stands at about 2.5 million and rising.
Describing malaria as a “deadly scourge,” GFA World’s latest report is one of a series of in-depth special reports by the Texas-based mission agency examining critical global issues, promoting awareness, and challenging people to respond. A life-saving mosquito net costs as little as $10 — but that’s more than many of Asia’s poorest families, who earn less than $2 a day, can afford.
“For many years. . . teams across South Asia have been engaged in malaria prevention,” said Dr. Daniel, director of Believers Eastern Church’s medical ministry in Asia. “These committed local workers, often trekking miles on foot, distribute free mosquito nets — some 360,000 last year alone – to prevent malaria infection and provide clean water and community sanitation to help reduce mosquito breeding grounds.”
Although malaria has a lower mortality rate than coronavirus, the financial toll of malaria is huge. According to estimates, malaria costs the African economy $12 billion every year through healthcare and loss of productivity and investment.
With much of South Asia currently under COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, GFA World is supporting outreaches to those most severely impacted — including impoverished day laborers unable to earn money for food. Teams are providing free meals as well as mosquito nets.