Sunday, October 25, 2020
Health And Welfare

Siya Kolisi unites with global athletes to keep malaria fight alive

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To keep the malaria fight alive and top of mind during the COVID-19 pandemic, World Cup-winning South African rugby captain Siya Kolisi and top female South African explorer Saray Khumalo have joined global athletes to take a stand behind the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign, to inspire awareness and action this World Mosquito Day (August 20).

Against the backdrop of the global pandemic, Siya and Saray are joined by renowned athletes from Africa and beyond, including Kenyan world-record-holding marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge, veteran international footballer Luis Figo, and founder of the first-ever Nigerian bobsled team Seun Adigun, to urge people to ‘see the bigger picture’ by tackling COVID-19 and malaria together to save more lives.

Malaria is one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases, transmitted by mosquitoes, which still kills an average of over 400,000 people annually – over 90 per cent of which happen in Africa. An estimated 228 million long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) were due to be delivered across Sub-Saharan Africa this year – more than ever before – but severe disruptions to life-saving net campaigns and limited access to antimalarial medicines as a result of COVID-19 could potentially result in a doubling of the number of malaria deaths in the region compared to 2018, according to recent modelling analyses by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Imperial College, London.

Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, says: “Malaria does not stop devastating lives during health emergencies and still kills a child every two minutes; indeed, experiences from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa show it can resurge in times of crisis with immediate and deadly consequences. COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in health systems around the world and, with lives at risk and resources increasingly stretched, long-term malaria investment alongside short-term COVID-19 response is essential, smart, and cost-effective.”

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