18 July 2012

Liberia: Pres. Sirleaf in Tanzania - African Leaders Support Malaria Eradication

At the end of the AU Summit, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has joined Tanzanian President Jakaya M. Kikwete to open the headquarters of the anti-malaria Alliance during a State Visit to the United Republic of Tanzania that runs from July 17-19.

President Sirleaf says that sustaining malaria control in Africa is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6, which calls for reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, respectively.

According to a dispatch from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, President Sirleaf made the remarks on Sunday, July 15, when she chaired discussions at an African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) luncheon that brought together Heads of State and Government of the African Union at the end of the 19th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.

ALMA is an Alliance of African Heads of State and Government working together to achieve change by ending malaria-related deaths in Africa by 2015. The Alliance aligns its purpose and timetable with the Abuja Declaration, the targets of the Roll-Back Partnership, and the eight Millennium Development Goals set forth by the United Nations. The Liberian leader is the current chair of ALMA.

Providing an overview of the ALMA initiative, President Sirleaf said that while the Alliance is focused explicitly on stopping deaths from malaria, its mission will also impact maternal, neonatal and child health targets. She stressed that because malaria is both a cause and consequence of poverty and illness, and tragically hostile to children and pregnant women, ALMA is working across national and regional borders in Africa to achieve near-zero deaths from malaria by 2015.

The President said that although ALMA is strategically African-governed and focused; its mission belongs to the world. She therefore called on the rest of the world to support this critical initiative of the leaders of Africa.

President Sirleaf also told her colleagues and international partners at the forum that funding was a critical challenge to the forward march of the alliance, assuring that options for financing will be considered during the September Meeting of ALMA preferably during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States of America.

As a way of integrating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, President Sirleaf is proposing a joint approach that brings together AIDS Watch-Africa and the ALMA. She hoped that the proposal could be adopted since the relationship between AIDS, TB and malaria are almost inseparable. "If the proposal is adopted," the President said, "ALMA will continue to Chair the collaboration, with AIDS Watch Africa serving as Co-Chair."

On the ALMA scorecard, President Sirleaf informed the gathering that it will be revised to include HIV/AIDS and TB, and that the ALMA secretariat, headed by its Executive Secretary, Ms. Joy Phumaphi, will work out the details.

During the luncheon, several distinguished personalities joined President Sirleaf in calling for support for the Alliance, including the AU Chairman and Beninese President Yayi Boni; Tanzania's President and former Chairperson of ALMA, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete; African Development Bank representative, Donald Kaberuka; the United Nations Secretary-General's MDGs Advocate and Special Envoy for Malaria, Raymond Chambers; the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin; and the Regional Director of the World Health Organization, Luis Sambo, among others.

President Sirleaf announced that the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Mr. Issa Hayatou, has approved a CAF, ALMA and United Against Malaria (UAM) partnership, and CAF's official commitment to support the malaria cause; and the opportunity to leverage the broadcast platform and network of the 2013 Orange African Cup of Nations with a series of public service announcements that will feature ALMA members and footballers.

The luncheon concluded with a press conference addressed by President Sirleaf, Special Envoy for Malaria Chambers, and CAF President Hayatou.

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