6 February 2018

Gambia: Interview With Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (Alma) Gambia's Award of Excellence in Malaria Control

Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance on Thursday 1st February 2018, in an interview with Foroyaa, said the African Leaders Malaria Alliance has given awards to six African countries including the Gambia for the sharp decline registered in malaria cases.

ALMA intends to work with countries to curb malaria with the objective to ensure that the continent achieve a malaria-free Africa. Joy mentioned the methods of fighting the disease such as ensuring that life-saving tools such as medicines, mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying do reach the people who need them as well as investing in better surveillance and strengthening health systems.

Executive Secretary said ALMA in 2017 mobilised enough resources to have dramatic coverage and to make effective monitoring of the malaria situation in the region. She informs that ALMA had developed forecasts to help health management systems to respond to challenges and dwelt on the Gambia example. She said Gambia regularly reports to WHO on progress and challenges regarding the use of insecticide and other methods. She said Gambia has been following rigorously to implement the programme and had tremendous success in controlling malaria and this is why the country in 2017 earned the 'Award for Excellence' for reversing the trend of infection.

Joy said all countries in the region should collaborate and equally strengthen the health systems to control malaria otherwise malaria will move to the neighbouring countries.

When asked what plans are afoot for countries that attain the award not to reverse their gains, she said ALMA and other partners will continue to supplement resources from donor countries and encourage donors such as the Global Fund to increase the resources annually. She also said ALMA will launch a private sector mobilisation action which targets $2 billion dollars and to continue to build on that.

On Research, she said huge resources are needed to meet the sustainable development goals to make malaria a success, and estimated about 12 billion dollars for this to happen.

On the method better utilized to sustain the gains of countries like The Gambia where many communities are still using pit latrines which gets water logged as people use them for bathing; that it is in such pit latrines where mosquitoes breed during the dry season in addition to the water logs in the streets during the rainy season.

The Executive Secretary ALMA said in that case vector control mechanism should be used to target those pit latrines. She expressed confidence that after the launch of the Private Sector Mobilisation Action with the collaboration of ECOWAS and other countries like Cuba, efforts would be utilized to deal with such issues as pit latrines and new interventions would be employed to help countries like The Gambia to continue to fight malaria.

ALMA Executive Secretary said it is critical for partners to work together to combat the challenges countries grapple with respect to waste management. She said they are encouraging countries to form what she called Malaria Partnership Commission which can be checked by the Ministry of Health so that they look at the critical sectors relating to the control of malaria and discuss what steps to take to deal with them. She cited Tanzanian as an example where the President of that country launched the Commission and said other countries should also emulate that.

Algeria, Comoros, Madagascar, the Gambia, Senegal, and Zimbabwe recognized by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance for their sharp decline in malaria cases.

During the 30th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 January 2018, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) which is an alliance of 49 African countries working to end malaria on the continent by 2030, honoured six African countries for their exemplary leadership in driving down malaria cases, even as regional and global progress risks losing momentum. The 2018 ALMA Awards for Excellence were presented to the heads of state of the following countries;Madagascar, the Gambia, Senegal and Zimbabwe for reducing malaria cases by more than 20 percent from 2015 to 2016. Algeria and Comoros are also awarded for: being on-track to achieve a more than 40 percent drop in cases by 2020.

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