The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned about the ongoing malaria outbreak in Ethiopia, as more than two million cases have been reported across the country.
The WHO, in its periodic bulletin on outbreaks and other emergencies on the African continent, issued Thursday, said since January this year, Ethiopia has experienced a significant malaria outbreak, with reports from various regions. “Cumulatively, from Jan. 1 through Sept. 10, a total of 2,235,311 cases have been reported in Ethiopia.”
Figures from the WHO showed that four regions affected by the malaria outbreak have reported incidence rates exceeding 2,000 cases per 100,000 population.
The WHO warned that climate change is likely to lengthen the transmission period of major vector-borne diseases, including malaria, and alter their geographic range.
It warned that the ongoing malaria outbreak is adding to the strain on an already fragile health system stretched by increased demands to respond to other concurrent outbreaks such as measles, cholera, COVID-19 and dengue, as well as the health consequences of natural disasters.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reported challenges to the response include inadequate and limited utilization of insecticide-treated nets, suboptimal environmental or vector control measures, and the presence of various mosquito breeding sites in industrial areas.
Malaria is endemic in Ethiopia, with higher prevalence in areas below 2,000 meters of altitude, which cover three-quarters of the country’s land mass, with an estimated population of 52 million, the WHO said.
Ethiopian Health Minister Lia Tadesse said over social media on Sunday that malaria is an urgent public health priority.
She said the increasing number of malaria cases over the past few years in Ethiopia and across the continent needs innovative ways to aggressively address the issue, from prevention, environmental management, early diagnosis, and timely treatment through strong multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder coordination and investment.