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African leaders hailed as countries make gains against malaria

ADDIS ABABA – At a time of historic progress toward a malaria-free Africa, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) honoured eight African countries that have shown commitment and innovation in the fight against the disease.

At the 28th African Union Summit, the 2017 ALMA Awards for Excellence were awarded to: Botswana, Cabo Verde, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Swaziland and Uganda, for their impact on malaria incidence and mortality; and Chad, for its leadership in the fight against malaria.

“Thanks to strong African leadership and innovative new partnerships, we are making unprecedented progress in the fight against malaria,” said H.E Idriss Déby Itno, President of Chad and current Chairperson of the African Union.

“The success of these countries shows the powerful impact that dedication and sufficient funding can have,” Itno added.

The ALMA Awards for Excellence recognise countries for their significant achievements in malaria control and elimination. Botswana, Cabo Verde, Comoros, DRC, Ethiopia, Swaziland and Uganda have all achieved a reduction in malaria incidence of 40% more from 2010-2015.

The significant reduction in malaria in the three high-burden countries (DRC, Ethiopia and Uganda) demonstrates what can be achieved with political commitment, adequate financing and implementation of technically sound and evidence-based vector control and case management interventions, even where malaria transmission is high. Botswana, Cabo Verde, Comoros and Swaziland are commended for sustaining the gains previously made between 2000-2010.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said they are all on track to eliminate malaria by 2020.

“We are turning the tide on malaria in Africa,” said Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of ALMA. “The success is reflected in the countries ALMA honoured today. Our work is not done. We must remain focused to achieve our goal of a malaria-free Africa,” she added.

The 2017 ALMA Awards for Excellence come just six months after the adoption of the ‘Catalytic Framework’ at the 27th African Union Summit last July. The framework provides a roadmap for African countries to increase domestic resources, expand the use of innovation and technology, and improve health infrastructure to eliminate malaria from the continent by 2030.

“Congratulations to the winners. I welcome ALMA’s continued partnership in the fight to end malaria,” said Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Commission. Further, he said, “In this regard, the Catalytic Framework is providing strategic direction to guide countries to achieve malaria control and elimination.”

Since 2000, malaria mortality rates across the continent have fallen by 62% in all age groups and by 69 % among children under five. The increase in those sleeping under long-lasting insecticidal nets, or protected by indoor residual spraying, as well as diagnostic testing of children and treatment of pregnant women has contributed to significantly lowering incidence and mortality in Africa. These achievements come at a time when African countries are providing more domestic funding to fight malaria.

The growing role of African leaders is also reflected in the recent formation of the End Malaria Council, a group of committed business and public sector leaders that has come together to ensure malaria eradication remains a global priority.

Meanwhile, Malaria remains a critical threat in Africa – the region still bears the highest global malaria burden. In 2015, 195 million of the 212 million new malaria cases and 394,000 of the world’s 429,000 malaria-related deaths were in Africa.

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