The New Times (Kigali)

16 July 2012

Africa: Continent Needs $3.2 Billion to Eliminate Malaria

Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Women in Ethiopia receive free bed nets.

The Chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, has said that if the continent is to eliminate malaria, an additional funding of $3.2 billion should be invested in universal access to life-saving tools in the next three years.

President Sirleaf made the call during the African Union Summit that is underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"A share of these resources will come from Africa. We can't ask the world to invest in Africa's health if we won't make the same investment ourselves, but we will need the world's help," said President Sirleaf.

Today, Rwanda is among the few African countries that are making tremendous progress in fighting malaria and a lot of financial investments have been made to scale up the prevention measures.

In a recent interview with The New Times, the Head of the Malaria and Other Parasitic Diseases Division at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Dr Corine Karema, said Rwanda pioneered the efforts of malaria elimination through integrating community health workers into their public health systems.

She explained that community health workers (CHWs) are treating children under five with malaria and Rwanda is the pioneer and leader in Africa for having CHWs testing fever with rapid diagnostic test and treating malaria.

"As a result, today, 95% of malaria cases in Rwanda are laboratory confirmed and 93% of children under five with malaria are treated within 24 hours of symptom onset and receive correct treatment," Dr Karema said.

Early this year, during the 18th African Union Summit, ALMA awarded Rwanda with the prestigious 2012 African Leaders Malaria Alliance for 'exemplary leadership in accelerating and sustaining access to malaria control and treatment'.

A recent independent study commissioned by ALMA, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria, and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership established that every dollar invested in malaria control in Africa generates on average $40 in GDP on the continent.

Scaling up to universal coverage of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria by the end of 2015 will prevent 640 million cases and avert 3 million malaria-related deaths.

ALMA members stressed the need to strengthen their financial management with support from the African Development Bank and the World Bank to enhance accountability and transparency.

Also, in Rwanda, the recent scaling up of interventions has made significant reductions in morbidity by 87% from 1,669,614 malaria cases in 2005 to 212,200 cases in 2011 and reduced mortality by 76% from 1,582 death in 2005 to 380 death in 2011.

This reduction is attributed to scaling up of preventive measures, especially coverage and use of long lasting insecticidal nets.

Meanwhile, it was announced in Ethiopia yesterday that Africa's most popular sport, football, is joining the malaria team through a new partnership announced between ALMA, United Against Malaria campaign (UAM) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

CAF has made malaria a signature social cause of the 2013 Orange African Cup of Nations and together the partnership is poised to reach hundreds of millions of African football fans with malaria prevention and awareness messaging.

"CAF recognises that in order for African football to compete on the global stage, we must have players and communities free of malaria," said Issa Hayatou, President of CAF.

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InFocus

Sirleaf Calls On Leaders to Support Fight Against Malaria

Women in Ethiopia receive free bed nets.

As chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, an group of African heads of state working together to end malaria-related deaths, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has reminded ... Read more »