Following a decade of progress towards malaria elimination, the majority of Elimination 8 (E8) countries (Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) have hit a plateau in the fight against malaria.
Given the region’s stagnating progress, cross-border collaboration and innovative partnerships are more critical than ever. Recognizing this, Ministry of Health representatives, E8 officials, nonprofit partners and religious leaders from four of the E8 countries convened in early March at the 5th annual Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative Round Table meeting in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
“We need to continue to ask each other difficult questions about progress, challenges, and to remain accountable to our neighbours for the results that we are achieving as bordering countries, and indeed, as a region,” said Dr. Richard Kamwi, E8 Ambassador and former Minister of Health of Namibia.
Despite efforts to coordinate bed net distributions and indoor residual spraying (IRS) in border communities, barriers – such as border tariffs – result in burdensome fees for the transport of commodities used to fight malaria. The more than 60 Round Table participants discussed and deliberated ways to break down such barriers, and achieve stronger joint advocacy and policy harmonization between Angola, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
During his address to participants, Dr. Kamwi also stressed the importance of mutual accountability.
“No one country is responsible for the continuing challenge of malaria transmission and parasite movement across borders; these are challenges which we all share,” he said. “Recognizing this is the first key step towards finding cross-border solutions that mutually reinforce everyone’s efforts on either sides of the border.”
Strategies for tailoring IEC (information, education, and communication) materials for malaria elimination were also discussed, and Isdell: Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative program managers provided updates on cross-border activities, including joint meetings and information sharing.
Chris Flowers and Neville Isdell, Co-Founders of the Isdell: Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative, lauded the efforts made by high-performing communities within the four countries, and on March 1st, recognized those communities during an award ceremony.
Working closely with all Churches, including the Anglican Church, the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative is currently supporting programs in the cross border communities of Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia.