Dar Es Salaam, 11 February 2021– President Uhuru Kenyatta, chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, announced the progress that has been made in responding to malaria amidst the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The third Zero Malaria Starts With Me annual Africa Malaria Progress Report highlights the achievements, challenges, and future directions in Africa’s battle to defeat malaria.
Since the launch of the Zero Malaria Starts with Me Campaign in 2018 by African Presidents, 19 countries have launched the initiative.
The public-facing campaign calls for communities and leaders to take personal responsibility to end malaria.
“At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO predicted a doubling of malaria deaths if severe disruptions to insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines were experienced.
While we are now in the second wave of the pandemic, I am delighted to say that through the strongest in-country leadership, this predicted doubling in malaria deaths was averted,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, who chairs the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted access to essential malaria services. However, African countries averted a major malaria upsurge by ensuring that over 90% of planned net distribution campaigns went ahead with COVID safety measures in place.
More children than ever before were reached with preventive antimalarial medicines in areas of highly seasonal transmission whilst following COVID-19 protocols.
‘While the targets in the Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030 are bold and ambitious, I am encouraged by the significant progress that is being made.
We should continue the big push for new funding initiatives with a focus on domestic financing such as End Malaria Funds and End Malaria Councils, increased roles for the private sector, invest in new innovations and tools.
Above all maintain the political commitment, shared responsibility and global solidarity’ said Her Excellency Mrs. Amira El Fadil, the Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Commission.
During the meeting, President Kenyatta launched the ALMA Youth Army Strategy that puts young people at the centre of the malaria fight in line with continental commitments including the African Youth Charter and the AU Roadmap on Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investments in Youth.
“Countries held the line against malaria in 2020—this year we must draw the line for good. The Draw the Line Against Malaria campaign will create a unifying, ground-breaking, and inspiring global platform to capture youth and public imagination, rally communities and leaders behind the crucial fight to rid our continent of this deadly yet preventable disease,” said Dr. Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.
Beating malaria remains a major public health challenge in Africa. During the COVID-19 pandemic, African governments mounted effective responses that ensured access to malaria services which averted many thousands of deaths on the continent.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of investing in and strengthening health systems and the need to work together to find solutions.
The response to COVID-19 has set a challenge, to apply the same vigour, in the fight against malaria, for Africa to accelerate the elimination of malaria by 2030.