KONFRONTASI - The World Health Organization (WHO) says the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is impeding aid organizations’ fight against Malaria.
"The Ebola outbreak has had a devastating impact on basic health service delivery in the most severely affected countries, including the ability to control malaria," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said on Tuesday.
Since the Ebola outbreak began in March, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the countries hit hardest by the deadly virus, recorded around 6,200 deaths.
According to WHO’s annual World Malaria Report, 20,000 people were killed by Malaria last year in the same countries.
"Malaria is the number one killer in Sierra Leone, but patients who may be infected do not seek care for fear of being shunned from health centres as suspected Ebola cases," the country’s UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) representative, Roeland Monasch, said last week.
Most inpatient malaria facilities in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have shut down, as patient traffic is focused in outpatient facilities, WHO’s report further read.
The Geneva-based UN health agency stressed that despite West Africa setbacks, the fight against Malaria has been successful.
Since the beginning of the century, Malaria’s worldwide mortality rate has fallen 47 percent and 54 percent in Africa, which has the most cases.
Increased availability of mosquito nets, indoor insecticide spraying and diagnostic testing were the main contributors to the death rates drop.
Parasites transmitted through bites of infected mosquitoes cause Malaria, which exhibits early symptoms similar to those of Ebola.[ptv]