On April 25th, World Malaria Day, the 7th Zero Malaria Award will be presented to Dr. Osamu Kunii, the Head of Strategy Investment and Impact of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Dr. Kunii has played an active role in the fight against the infectious diseases through his duties at the Global Fund, which includes building and strengthening of the healthcare systems in developing countries. Due to his long-term contributions, he has been awarded this prize for 2020.
As COVID-19 is currently a global threat, malaria is said to be one of the most affected infectious diseases. By COVID-19 further damaging the already vulnerable healthcare systems and negatively impacting the existing measures against infectious diseases, it is estimated that in the worst-case scenario, severe disruptions to insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines could lead to a doubling in the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year compared to 2018, according to a recent modeling analysis released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners. As the global fight against COVID-19 continues, it is imperative to sustain and strengthen the health systems designated to fight against malaria and other infectious diseases.
In response to COVID-19, the Global Fund has announced a guideline on March 4th to allow recipient countries to reprogram 5% of the funds so countries can buy personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and sanitizing gel for the health workers involved in lifesaving malaria programs. For example, Honduras is mitigating the impact on malaria programs and fighting COVID-19 by purchasing 25,000 surgical masks and 5,000 N95 respirator masks as well as by utilizing four ventilators and a mobile X-ray machine. For more information on the Global Fund’s response to COVID-19 while maintaining the fight against the three major diseases, please read the Global Fund Situation Reports.