Ebola is terrible but malaria is also terrible. Both are killers. The BBC reports on worries that Ebola might displace efforts to prevent malaria.
Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, who heads the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, said after visiting west Africa: “Understandably, all the health workers’ attention is on Ebola.”
Children’s wards which used to be full of malaria patients were becoming “ghost areas,” she added.
In 2012, malaria killed 7,000 people in the three countries worst hit by Ebola.
4,000 deaths in Sierra Leone in 2012, around 2,000 deaths in Liberia, circa 1,000 in Guinea.
Now the three countries are wrestling with the Ebola virus and Dr Nafo-Traoré said she feared that recent gains in preventing malaria could be threatened by the crisis.
She said: “These countries have previously been really hit by malaria. But five years ago, it was even worse – the deaths were double.
“We all agree that no child should die from malaria, because we have the tools to prevent and treat it.
“But now, understandably, all the health workers’ attention is on Ebola.”
Health workers are busy with Ebola, so the malaria wards are empty because there are no health workers to staff them. That means no one knows how many people are dying of malaria.
RBM is a partnership of more than 500 organisations. It was formed 16 years ago to co-ordinate global efforts against malaria.
It says Guinea and Sierra Leone met key targets last year for distributing bed nets – a crucial weapon for protecting children from mosquitoes which spread malaria.
Bed nets. Wouldn’t it be nice if those homeopaths who are there meddling with the Ebola outbreak instead simply distributed bed nets? That would actually accomplish something.