Kenya spelt out a near-term target of ensuring at least 80 per cent of people living in malaria-risk areas are using appropriate preventive interventions
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) welcomes the commitment by 53 Commonwealth leaders, meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last week, to halve malaria prevalence across the Commonwealth within the next five years.
The game-changing commitment followed the Malaria Summit in Dar, where leaders from malaria-affected countries, businesses, donors and the international community made new commitments and urged Commonwealth leaders to get ready to beat malaria.
The commitment from the Commonwealth has the potential to prevent 350 million malaria cases and save 650,000 lives. Ninety per cent of global malaria cases and deaths occur in Africa and the impact of this renewed focus to eliminate malaria will be felt across the continent.
Earlier last week, African leaders affirmed their determination to eliminate malaria, with 12 African countries in the Commonwealth announcing new commitments.
The nations represented at ministerial level were Kenya, Tanzania, Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, The Gambia, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia.
The ministers pledged to rid the countries of malaria in the near future, with Kenya committing to achieve universal health care as part of its ‘Big Four’ agenda and to prioritising efforts to eliminate malaria across the country by 2030.
It spelt out a near-term target of ensuring at least 80 per cent of people living in malaria-risk areas are using appropriate preventive interventions and that all cases are treated in accordance with the National Malaria Treatment Guidelines. eSwatini has a programme to eliminate malaria by 2020, citing its recent commitment to double domestic financing for indoor residual spraying, driving more effective prevention to help achieve the goal of elimination.
Ghana committed to drive innovation in the fight to beat malaria, including being one of three countries to pilot the new malaria vaccine and one of the first to introduce next generation resistance beating insecticides for indoor residual spraying, as Malawi said it would reduce malaria incidence and deaths by at least 50 per cent by 2022, and to eliminate malaria entirely from the country by 2028.
Mozambique will convene a national multi-sector malaria forum including private sector, community and partners to work together to achieve a malaria free country, while Namibia highlighted historic success in cutting malaria rates by more than 90 per cent and reiterated its commitment to eliminate the disease across in the next few years.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has intensified efforts to elevate war on malaria on the national priority list, including securing $300 million (Sh30 billion) in financing from the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and African Development Bank to help fund the national malaria strategy.
Conference host, Tanzania, spelt out plans to reduce malaria prevalence from 10 per cent in 2012 to less than one per cent by 2020, including a commitment to continue the provision and distribution of mosquito nets to achieve universal access by 2020.
The Gambia will accelerate efforts to eliminate malaria across the country by 2022, including a new cross-border collaboration with Senegal to support sub-regional elimination efforts, as Uganda is to establish a presidential malaria fund to help mobilise increased dedicated resources from government, partners and private enterprises to fight malaria.
Zambia aims at achieving 100 per cent malaria-free status by 2021 by placing new dedicated Malaria Elimination Officers in each district and launching an end-malaria commission that will support resource mobilisation efforts, including through the private sector.
And Rwanda, Commonwealth’s latest entrant, affirmed its commitment to health as a national priority, including investing 20 per cent of the national budget in the health sector.
They also highlighted the roll out of free treatment for malaria and committed to reduce malaria by 50 per cent in the country by 2023 and to achieve elimination by 2030.
In addition, ALMA, in line with the African Union’s Catalytic Framework to end HIV/Aids, TB and Eliminate Malaria by 2030, committed to supporting member countries to introduce and strengthen the use of national and sub-national malaria scorecards and action trackers, with robust community engagement; to support increased domestic funding from both the public and private sector; and to continue its work with Heads of State and Government in Africa to monitor progress towards this goal.
The conference also saw additional commitments from the international community including Britain and the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which announced additional funding. The writer is a consultant with Portland Communications