By Abimbola Akosile
To help eliminate the malaria scourge in Nigeria, the Federal Government will be securing $300 million in new financing from the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and African Development Bank.
The country also committed to efforts to elevate malaria on the national priority list, and pledged an additional $18.7 million to leverage $37million from the Global Fund to distribute 15 million mosquito nets and to support the local manufacture of essential malaria commodities.
This is coming ahead of the World Malaria Day, which is commemorated every year on April 25 and recognises global efforts to control malaria, with Nigeria having approximately 51 million cases, while the disease reportedly causes about 207,000 deaths annually.
Various commitments were also made by Nigeria and other Commonwealth leaders to halve malaria across the Commonwealth within the next five years; according to a statement from the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania weekend.0
The commitment, according to ALMA, followed the recent Malaria Summit, where leaders from malaria-affected countries, businesses, donors and the international community made new commitments and urged Commonwealth leaders to get ‘Ready to Beat Malaria’.
According to the statement, obtained by THISDAY, the commitment from the Commonwealth has the potential to prevent 350 million malaria cases and save 650,000 lives. 90 per cent of global malaria cases and deaths occur on the African continent and the impact of this renewed focus to eliminate malaria will be felt across the continent, it noted.
African leaders had earlier affirmed their determination to eliminate malaria, with 12 African countries in the Commonwealth including Nigeria announcing new commitments.
In addition, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, in line with the African Union’s (AU) Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria by 2030, committed to supporting member countries to introduce and strengthen the use of national and sub-national malaria scorecards and action trackers, with robust community engagement; to support increased domestic funding from both the public and private sector; and to continue its work with Heads of State and Government in Africa to monitor progress towards this goal.
The past week also saw additional commitments from the international community including the UK Government, which reaffirmed its commitment to spend £500 million a year through 2020-2021 and an extra £100 million commitment to the Global Fund.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also announced an additional US$1 billion through 2023 to fund research and development to reduce the burden of malaria. In addition, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged £50 million in matching funds against the UK Government’s additional £100 commitment to the Global Fund.
On commitments by the African Commonwealth countries, the Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) pledged to rid the country of malaria by 2020 and to double domestic financing for indoor residual spraying, driving more effective prevention to help achieve the goal of elimination. It also committed to mobilise more domestic resources from the private sector for the fight to eliminate malaria and to continue their leadership and support for ALMA.
Ghana, according to the statement, committed to drive innovation in the fight to beat malaria, including being one of three countries to pilot the new malaria vaccine and one of the first to introduce next generation resistance beating insecticides for indoor residual spraying.
Kenya committed to achieving universal health care as part of Kenya’s four pillar agenda and to prioritising efforts to eliminate malaria across the country by 2030. Malawi also committed to reduce malaria incidence and deaths by at least 50 per cent by 2022, and to eliminate malaria entirely from the country by 2028.
On the other hand, Mozambique committed to convene a national multi-sector malaria forum including private sector, community and partners to work together to achieve a malaria free Mozambique.
Namibia highlighted historic success in cutting malaria rates by more than 90 per cent and reiterated their commitment to eliminate malaria across the country in the next few years. They emphasised the importance of cross border collaboration and the regional elimination efforts of the E8 partners in supporting this ambition. In addition to current government investment levels of $2 million per year they are also aligning their national resource strategy to help meet future funding gaps.
United Republic of Tanzania committed to reduce Malaria prevalence from 10 per cent in 2012 to less than 1 per cent in 2020. Including a commitment to continue the provision and distribution of mosquito nets to achieve universal access by 2020, and scale up larviciding and Indoor Residual Spraying to prevent malaria. They further committed to strengthening capacity building for health care providers at regional and council levels.
The Gambia committed to accelerate efforts to eliminate malaria across the country by 2022. This includes new cross-border collaboration with Senegal to support sub-regional elimination efforts.
Uganda committed to establish a Presidential Malaria Fund Uganda (PMFU) to help mobilise increased dedicated resources from government, partners and private enterprises to fight malaria. They further committed to support government parish chiefs to supervise and ensure appropriate use of all malaria interventions; and to ensure that 15,000 Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWS) are recruited and facilitated to promote equitable access to early treatment and prevention services in all households.
Rwanda reaffirmed its commitment to health as a national priority, including investing 20 per cent of their national budget in the health sector. They also highlighted the roll out of free treatment for malaria and committed to reduce malaria by 50 per cent in the country by 2023 and to achieve elimination by 2030.
Zambia aims to achieve 100 per cent malaria-free status by 2021. In support of this ambition they will place new dedicated Malaria Elimination Officers in each district and launch an end malaria commission that will support resource mobilisation efforts, including through the private sector.
According to the ALMA statement, “Today (Friday)’s announcement and earlier commitments made this week will be vital for re-energising the global community’s fight to end malaria.
“The 2017 World Malaria Report revealed that progress towards eliminating malaria globally and across the African continent was fragile and uneven. While several African countries including Madagascar, Senegal, the Gambia and Zimbabwe led the world in reducing malaria cases in 2016, nine out of the 10 countries which saw the greatest increase in cases were on the African continent.
“As we continue to make progress, we are starting to see new challenges impacting our fight including climate change and increased resistance to interventions. This announcement will help support countries to scale up the interventions which work while helping to tackle the new challenges around drug and insecticide resistance and climate change.
“With 90 per cent of its population at risk, the Commonwealth is dis-proportionately exposed to malaria. While malaria is estimated to cost African economies $12 billion a year in direct losses, it is also estimated to cost the UK over £700,000 in lost trade.
“This commitment from the Commonwealth, African governments, donors and the international community, highlights that the world is ‘Ready to Beat Malaria’.
“We have made significant gains against malaria on the African continent. This progress has been the result of the sustained commitment from African leaders and the international community.
“But the gains made are fragile and there is no room for complacency. Failure to sustain and indeed strengthen our efforts will have humanitarian effects as well as cost implications for our respective countries.
“Today the Commonwealth has made a strong statement that it is ready to beat malaria. Let’s recommit to work together as governments, development partners, the private sector and communities to eliminate malaria for good. Zero malaria starts with me and with you”, the statement added.