Chinese companies contribute to Africa's anti-malarial effo

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As the world is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese companies have taken multiple measures to help African countries combat another major threat to public health -- malaria.

There are more than 200 million malaria infections and over 400,000 deaths every year around the world, while 93 percent of malaria cases and 94 percent of deaths took place in Africa in 2018, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Thanks to the growing attention from the international community and the widespread use of artemisinin and mosquito nets in recent years, the world has seen a significant decrease of more than 45 percent in malaria-induced deaths from 743,000 in 2000 to 403,000 in 2018.

However, the latest WHO forecast indicates that the malaria death toll in sub-Saharan Africa may exceed 700,000 in 2020 and even reach a record high for the past 20 years if the pandemic continues to hold back the anti-malarial efforts.

The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa have now surpassed 1.4 million.

China vowed to eliminate malaria in 2010 and has seen no locally transmitted cases since 2017.

"China has accumulated abundant expertise and experience in malaria control and elimination and many Chinese companies develop and supply a wide range of effective anti-malarial products to African countries," said Zhou Xiaonong, director of the country's National Institute of Parasitic Diseases.

Chinese pharmaceutical company Fosun Pharma, for example, entered the African market in 2007 and its sales network now covers 35 African countries and regions.

"We have increased our purchase of raw materials and strengthened cooperation with airliners amid the pandemic to ensure the supply of anti-malarial products in Africa," said Li Dongming, senior vice president of the company.

The company has also increased the anti-malarial medicine stock in African countries during the outbreak of the COVID-19 to deliver timely treatment to local patients.

The company had supplied 150 million artesunate injections for 30 million patients in severe condition by the end of 2019, according to the company.

Apart from the anti-malarial medicine, mosquito net is also listed by the WHO as one of the most effective measures to fight malaria.

Yorkool, a Chinese pharmaceutical company dedicated to arthropod-borne tropical disease control, has manufactured and exported more than 32 million long-lasting insecticide nets as of September, according to the company.

"Because of the strict COVID-19 preventive measures by the Chinese government, our production resumed quite early," said Yang Jia, general manager of Yorkool's African branch.

Zhou also noted that Chinese companies should further bolster cooperation with international organizations and tap into their technical advantages in anti-malarial products.