CAMEROON—Ministers of Health from African countries with the highest burden of malaria have pledged to sustainably and equitably address the threat of malaria in the African region, which accounts for 95% of malaria deaths globally.

The Ministers, gathering in Yaoundé, Cameroon, signed a declaration committing to provide stronger leadership and increased domestic funding for malaria control programmes; to ensure further investment in data technology; to apply the latest technical guidance in malaria control and elimination; and to enhance malaria control efforts at the national and sub-national levels.

The ministers further pledged to increase health sector investments to bolster infrastructure, personnel, and programme implementation; to enhance multi-sectoral collaboration; and to build partnerships for funding, research, and innovation.

In signing the declaration, they expressed their “unwavering commitment to the accelerated reduction of malaria mortality” and “to hold each other and our countries accountable for the commitments outlined in this declaration.”

The Yaoundé conference, co-hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Cameroon, brought together health ministers, global malaria partners, financial agencies, scientists, civil society organizations, and other key malaria players.

The major aims of the ministerial conference were to examine progress and obstacles in meeting the targets of the WHO global malaria strategy and to discuss malaria mitigation techniques and funding.

The additional goals are to agree on effective methods and actions for reducing malaria mortality in Africa, as well as to develop a roadmap for improved government commitment and societal engagement in malaria management, including a clear accountability mechanism.

Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania are the 11 African countries that account for around 70% of the worldwide malaria burden.

Since 2017, progress against malaria has stalled in these high-burden African countries due to factors such as humanitarian crises, limited access to and poor-quality health care, climate change, gender-related barriers, biological threats such as insecticide and drug resistance, and global economic crises.

Fragile health-care systems, as well as important data and surveillance gaps, have made the situation worse.

Malaria control funding is also inadequate around the world. In 2022, US$4.1 billion – little more than half of the required budget—was available for malaria response.

Globally, the number of cases in 2022 was much higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching 249 million from 233 million in 2019.

During the same time span, the African region saw a rise in cases, from 218 million to 233 million. The region continues to bear the largest malaria burden, accounting for 94% of global malaria infections and 95% of global deaths, with an anticipated 580,000 deaths by 2022.

Speaking at the event, Hon Manaouda Malachie, Cameroon’s Minister for Health, stated that their shared commitment as nations and partners is critical to protecting people from the devastating effects of malaria, and that they must work together to translate these commitments into action and impact.

On his part, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, noted that there has been significant progress against malaria despite challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and long-standing threats like drug and insecticide resistance.

He went on to note that there is a need to address critical gaps in funding and access to tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat malaria.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, highlighted that malaria continues to cause preventable deaths in children, and this ministerial declaration demonstrated strong political support for the devastating disease.

She went on to explain that implementing malaria vaccines, increasing the whole package of malaria interventions to meet the 2030 targets, and guaranteeing high-level leadership to enhance health systems will all help to eradicate this deadly illness.

In 2018, WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria developed the “High burden to high impact” approach, which aimed to accelerate progress in malaria-prone countries.

The declaration signed at today’s conference is consistent with the “High burden to High impact” approach, which is based on four pillars: political will to reduce malaria deaths; strategic information to drive impact; improved guidance, policies, and strategies; and a coordinated national malaria response.

To get malaria development back on track, WHO urges a strong commitment to malaria response at all levels, particularly in high-burden countries.

Recommendations include increased domestic and international funding, science and data-driven malaria responses, urgent action on climate change’s health impacts, leveraging research and innovation, and strong partnerships for coordinated responses.

WHO also emphasizes the importance of addressing delays in malaria programme implementation.

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