ETHIOPIA— The African continent is at the center of a perfect storm that might disrupt vital services that are necessary to prevent malaria, according to President Umaro Sissoco Embaló, the chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA).

This takes place against a backdrop of mounting challenges to global development, like the global economic downturn, which is adversely affecting Africa’s attempts to combat malaria, and other health problems like neglected tropical diseases.

Progress towards the elimination of malaria has slowed down despite strong political will and a robust toolkit of interventions.

The ongoing global financial crisis, the impact of climate change, insecticide and drug resistance, and humanitarian crises are all contributing factors to the critical financial shortfalls for malaria programs, which must be addressed immediately to prevent malaria upsurges.

According to the sixth annual Africa Malaria Progress Report, there is a substantial lack of resources, with Member States needing to set aside US$1.5 billion in funding by 2026 merely to maintain the existing, insufficient level of coverage for crucial malaria interventions.

This shortage, which is related to the world financial crisis and the increased price of necessary supplies to combat the possibility of resistance, may cause malaria mortality to double, matching the worst-case scenarios that were first projected at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the continent needs to receive an extra US$5.2 billion in financing each year in order to get closer to elimination and enable nations to fully carry out their national strategic objectives.

To close these gaps and fully fund their national malaria strategy plans, member states must move swiftly in coordination with regional, national, and international multisectoral partners.

With Africa accounting for only 4% of global carbon emissions, the research also emphasizes the growing threat that climate change poses to health, particularly with regard to malaria and neglected tropical diseases.

Climate-induced calamities such as heatwaves, floods, and droughts have a disproportionate impact on Africa, and they also threaten to expand malaria and other vector-borne diseases across the continent.

To combat these expanding dangers, an integrated agenda is required, with malaria serving as a model for strengthening health systems, primary health care, and pandemic preparedness, as well as a prime illustration of climate change’s influence on health.

The global community must strengthen its support for mitigation and adaptation measures while also ensuring that Africa takes this problem seriously and commits the additional resources required to eradicate the disease once and for all.

The research report recognizes the long-term investments and daring efforts made by African countries, partners, and community health workers to combat malaria.

Despite this, the African continent continues to suffer a significant burden, accounting for 94% of all malaria infections (233 million) and 95% of all malaria deaths (580 000).

Children continue to bear the brunt of the disease’s impact, accounting for around 78% of all malaria deaths in the region.

President Embaló, speaking on behalf of His Excellency Carlos Pinto Pereira, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, and Communities, Republic of Guinea Bissau, emphasized the importance of acting immediately to prevent malaria deaths from increasing as a result of funding gaps, biological threats, and climate disruptions.

He went on to explain that malaria provides a feasible road for a fully integrated approach in which all sectors contribute to efforts to establish long-term and resilient health systems.

Her Excellency Amb. Minata Samate Cessouma, the Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development at the African Union Commission, on her part noted that existing tools are being impacted by the threat of resistance and to effectively get back on track, there is need to must add new tools in the fight against malaria.

She went on to highlight that there are highly effective tools that can address these threats, although these newer tools work better but cost more.

 According to her , local production, and market-shaping activities by Member States and partners can lower some of the costs, making them affordable, and accessible and therefore producing greater impact

 Positive advancements in the fight against malaria and other health issues, such as the thoughtful application of health scorecard tools, are highlighted in the 2023 African Union Malaria Progress Report.

Utilizing data to inform real-time programming has resulted in major initiatives such as the mobilization of resources, mentoring and training programs, techniques for addressing low stock levels through procurement, and enhanced community engagement in over 40 African countries.

Countries are now able to manage bottlenecks and motivate action more successfully thanks to real-time data, scorecards for accountability, and action tools.

29 countries have already signed on to the report’s request for an expedited start of national “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” programs. For the purposes of advocacy, action, resource mobilization, and accountability, the creation of national multisectoral End Malaria and NTD Councils and Funds is essential.

In just seven nations thus far, these councils have raised over US$50 million for African causes, and fifteen more are preparing to establish councils and funds by 2024.

Ultimately, the recent WHO designation of the Republic of Cabo Verde as a malaria-free country serves as evidence of what can be accomplished in Africa with persistent dedication and teamwork.

 With this significant achievement, Cabo Verde joins 43 other nations and territories that have eradicated this deadly illness.

The eradication of malaria in Cabo Verde exemplifies the art of the feasible and embodies the idea that “Zero Malaria Starts with Me.”

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