Africa called to eliminate malaria by 2030

Sunday, January 28, 2018

African nations have been called to renew their commitment and strengthen instruments to attain a malaria-free Africa by 2030.

Speaking to leaders during a high-level briefing held on the margins of the 30th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on Friday, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said that malaria alone is estimated to rob the continent of US$12 billion per year in lost productivity, investment and associated health care costs.

“It is therefore critical that we sustain the political commitment, as articulated in our Continental Agenda 2063, to eliminate malaria in Africa by 2030, through increased domestic financing, increased access to life-saving malaria interventions, as well as more robust health systems,” said Mahamat.

Senior health, finance and foreign affairs officials from across the continent were briefed on the latest findings from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Malaria Report 2017, signalling that, for the first time in more than a decade, progress against malaria on the African continent, which accounts for almost 90 percent of the global malaria burden, has stalled.

African leaders have committed to eliminating malaria by 2030, as articulated in the Continental Development Agenda 2063.

Malaria, a treatable and preventable disease, already costs the African continent’s economy US$ 12 billion per year in direct losses, and 1.3 percent of lost annual Gross domestic product (GDP) growth, an earlier report by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, action and investment to defeat Malaria, has shown.

According to WHO Report 2017, progress across Africa has been uneven, putting at risk the tremendous progress to-date and African leaders’ collective ambition to end the disease.

Beating malaria is possible

The report noted that while some African countries have seen a greater than 20 percent increase in malaria cases and deaths since 2016, others are showing that beating malaria is possible.

Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, Dr Pedro Alonso, said that in 2016, just 15 countries carried most of the global malaria burden, together accounting for 80 percent of all malaria cases and deaths.

“All but one of these countries are in Africa. The report sends a clear warning that we have stopped making progress and that, without urgent action, we risk going backwards,” said Dr Alonso.

CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Dr Kesete Admasu, said that African countries are at greatest risk of losing the significant gains made over a decade and must renew efforts to make fighting malaria a priority.

“Domestic funding needs to be urgently stepped up. These investments -- only a fraction of what African nations will save if we succeed in eliminating malaria, will pay off in millions more lives saved, health systems strengthened, economies grown and the world back on track to end this disease,” Admasu said.

Gaps in financing malaria efforts

Participants also heard that high-burden countries such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which account for 27 percent and 10 percent of the global malaria cases, respectively, also face significant gaps in financing their malaria efforts over the next three years.

Nigeria faces a financial gap of US$1.4 billion, equivalent to 68 percent of the country’s needs, whereas DRC requires an additional US$536 million to fully implement its national malaria strategic plan.

Alternatively, several African countries that have stepped up their efforts, such as Senegal and Madagascar, have achieved a greater than 20 percent decrease in malaria cases in 2016, according to the World Malaria Report 2017.

WHO also used the occasion to launch a World Malaria Report 2017 mobile app that provides, at the swipe of a finger, the latest information on malaria policies, financing, interventions and burden in 91 endemic countries. – SAnews.gov.za

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