Is Africa on target to eliminate malaria by 2030?
The Fight Malaria will be eradicated in Africa this century — but, first, there are significant challenges to overcome.
What needs to happen in the short term to achieve malaria elimination in Africa by 2030?
"We need to protect the gains we have made. To do that we must see a decrease in both the malaria incidence rate and mortality rate. This means we have to consistently increase coverage of vector control; there has to be rapid diagnosis of fever at community level and there has to be access to Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) at community level. Unfortunately, there are very few countries in Africa that have been able to achieve this. In fact, on the mainland of the continent there are only six countries that have been able to sustain the progress they have made."
How will African heads of state and government ensure that the continent achieves malaria elimination?
"By working together. We know that progress happens when heads of state work closely with their minister of health and with partners, with a focus on accountability. One of the things that has contributed to the success of fighting malaria in southern Africa is cross-border control. For example, in the Lubombo region between Swaziland, South Africa and Mozambique, instances of malaria have been kept down because these three countries have worked together to control it. Compare that success with the region bordering Namibia and Angola where there hasn’t been common agreement on how to fight malaria and, as a result, there are outbreaks on both sides every year."
Joy with Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini of the Kingdom of Swaziland, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and President Idriss Déby Itno of Chad (former chair of ALMA).
How will ALMA encourage more domestic financing for malaria control and elimination?
"We know we have to treble investment by 2030 to meet targets. This means we can no longer rely on aid. Public sector allocations have to increase and we have to take resources from the private sector too. So, at ALMA, we have been aggressively promoting the importance of an increase in public sector allocations. That has yielded results, although not on the scale that we would like to see. We are also establishing a fund, which will be crucial in terms of increasing public sector allocations, and tapping into resources from the private sector and from individuals in Africa."
How optimistic are you that malaria will be eliminated in Africa?
"Very optimistic. It’s important to note that Africa has made more progress in fighting malaria in the last 10 years than it did over the whole of the last century. Also, African countries now appreciate the economic benefits of combatting malaria and are determined to make its elimination a reality. We’re aiming to do that by 2030: but even if we fall short of that target, we will definitely get rid of malaria in Africa in the first half of this century."