Pope Francis has called for continuous efforts to combat malaria even as the world fights the new coronavirus pandemic.
“While we are fighting the coronavirus pandemic, we must also continue our efforts to prevent and treat malaria, which threatens billions of people in many countries,” said the pontiff.
This year’s observance of World Malaria Day on April 25 has been overshadowed by attention given to the global health crisis brought about by the pandemic.
The World Health Organization last week warned that efforts to contain the coronavirus could shift attention away from malaria control and fuel another fatal outbreak.
Malaria remains the biggest killer in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 93 percent of global cases, according to non-profit group Africa Check.
A report published by the WHO predicts that malaria deaths on the continent may jump from a projected 386,000 to 769,000 as campaigns to combat it are interrupted by the coronavirus.
During Mass on Sunday in the Vatican, Pope Francis acknowledged World Malaria Day as he called for the continuation of efforts to prevent and cure the disease.
The pontiff said he is close “to all who are sick” and to their caregivers, and to those working to ensure that “every person might have access to basic health care.”