Elevated Malaria Case Rates in Northern Mali – A Metric to Watch for the Sahel and Beyond

Sahelien, Le Monde, and others are reporting that case rates for Malaria in Kidal, northern Mali, are approximately double this year what they were at this time last year. Here is Sahelien’s video report (French):

The high case rate has much to do with this year’s high rates of rainfall, which as Le Monde points out have affected even what is normally thought of as the northern Malian desert. Experts are also identifying COVID-19, and its impacts on health systems and health supplies, as another cause. From a relatively early point in the pandemic, there have been fears that COVID-19 would lead to excess deaths from malaria (and HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis).

Public health officials launched a five-day, region-wide malaria prevention campaign for Kidal in the second half of September.

The Ménaka and Gao regions are also affected. One Malian news outlet says there were 4,500 cases in the north during the past few weeks. That report adds another crucial point about the indirect impact of COVID-19 – the pandemic triggers headlines and mobilizes resources, while malaria gets much less attention than it merits.