09 December 2021
The World Health Organization, or WHO, says the COVID-19 crisis has interfered with efforts to control the disease of malaria. Insects called mosquitoes spread the dangerous sickness when they bite people.
The U.N. health agency released its yearly World Malaria Report on Monday.
It says there were 241 million cases of the disease in 2020, an increase of 14 million from 2019. The WHO says 627,000 people died from malaria in 2020, almost 70,000 more than the year before.
Around 65 percent of the additional deaths, about 47,000, were linked to COVID-related "disruptions" in medical supplies. Around 95 percent of all malaria cases and deaths in 2020 were in African countries south of the Sahara desert.
The WHO noted that the malarial situation last year did not get as bad as the agency had thought it might. Some predictive models had shown malaria deaths rising by 100 percent in 2020.
"The first message, in many ways is a good news message," said Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Program. The "doomsday scenario has not materialized," he added, praising the work of affected countries and their partners as the reason.
But the 2021 Global Malaria Report still warns that progress against malaria has slowed in recent years. Around 25 countries have shown increases in deaths related to malaria since 2015.
In the 11 hardest-hit countries, yearly cases of malaria grew by 13 million to 163 million between 2015 and 2020. The WHO said deaths rose more than 54,000 to nearly 445,000 each year as of last year.
Alonso said the world is "not on a trajectory to success," in the malaria fight right now. And, he added, "How things will evolve over the coming weeks and months I wouldn't dare to say at this point."
I'm Gregory Stachel.
Jamey Keaten reported this story for The Associated Press. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
disrupt – v. to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way: to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something)
scenario – n. a description of what could possibly happen
doomsday – n. the day the world ends or is destroyed
trajectory – n. a process of change or development that leads toward a particular result