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Malaria Challenges in the COVID-19 Era

‐ Apr 25, 2020 12:45pm

Malaria endemic regions face unique challenges when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this one-on-one interview, Dr. Pedro Alonso, Director of the World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Programme, talks about the challenges of simultaneously fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and controlling malaria outbreaks in endemic countries. What are the medical and public health concerns, and what are the strategies for addressing both threats successfully?

Dr. Alonso shares his insights and WHO guidance on addressing important questions, including:

  • Are patients with malaria at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, or at higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms? What are the dangers of co-infection?
  • How do these compounded threats differentially impact certain at-risk populations or demographics, such as children, pregnant women, or the elderly? What public health measures might be taken to mitigate these impacts?
  • The malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have been suggested for treating COVID-19… what are the implications of this? Could patients being treated for malaria with these drugs be resistant to COVID-19 infection?
  • What are the challenges in malaria endemic regions to balancing COVID-19 control with malaria control? What resources does the WHO provide to help countries balance these two agendas in order to devise and implement appropriate public health measures?
  • What lessons did we learn from the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015, that are being implemented today?
  • How might COVID-19 affect critical WHO Global Malaria Program actions, like pilot studies of the RTS,S malaria vaccine, in sub-Saharan African countries?

Find out more about COVID-19 and malaria on the World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Programme website: