Empower local communities, avert future disease outbreaks

23 Apr 2021

Photo: Tobby Madden/Transaid

The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly revealed the interconnected nature of global health security.

The effects of a faltering health system can be felt well beyond sovereign borders. This means that preventing the spread of a future pandemic rests on the strengthening of the systems which deliver healthcare in geographies where patients are most vulnerable.

According to the World Health Organization, Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest global mortality rate for children under five.1 It is also the region with the highest burden of malaria, accounting for over 90% of cases.2

Like other diseases, malaria thrives where access to basic health services is limited. Common symptoms, such as fever, have been shown to mask those of other infections, including COVID-19.3 This not only places a burden on already fragile health systems but threatens global health security more broadly by allowing disease to spread undetected.

Investments in malaria detection and response can increase preparedness for future disease outbreaks. A clear example of this synergy can be seen in the work of Chola, a Zambian fisherman, farmer and Community Facilitator, who supports the MAM (Mobilizing Access to Maternal Health Services in Zambia) at Scale project. 

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1. WHO Fact sheets. Children: improving survival and well-being (2020).

2. WHO World Malaria Report (2020).

3. Mogahed Ismal Hassan Hussein et al., Malaria and COVID-19: unmasking their tiesMalaria Journal 19, 457 (2020).