Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a systemic disease, impacting multiple organs in the human body. But COVID-19 also impacts other diseases of relevance to public and planetary health. To understand and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need an intersectional conceptual lens and systems thinking. For example, the strain on health care systems due to COVID-19 has adversely impacted global malaria elimination programs. With many epidemiological, clinical, and biological parallels documented, we examined in this study the scenario of malaria and COVID-19 syndemic in India. The disruptive influence of COVID-19 on the National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME), impact of unintended chemoprophylaxis, population genetic influences, and the shifting patterns of epidemiology are compared. Importantly, a time series analysis forecasted the burden of malaria increasing in the upcoming years. Although reported malaria cases showed a decline in 2020 compared to the previous years, an increase in cases was documented in 2021, with nine states reporting an increase up to July 2021. Pandemics often cause crosscutting disruptions in health care. Reshaping the priorities of the malaria elimination program and a diligent implementation of the priorities in the NFME would, therefore, be well-advised: (1) vector control, (2) antimalarial therapy recommendations, (3) monitoring drug resistance, (4) prevention of the spread of asymptomatic disease-causing low-density transmission, and (5) large-scale testing measures. In conclusion, the findings from the present study inform future comparative studies in other world regions to better understand the broader, systemic, temporal, and spatial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on existing and future diseases across public health systems and services.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology