African leaders warn of deadly malaria emergency and call for urgent action to address unprecedented funding gap

by MMC
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African Union Heads of State and Government, global health leaders and development partners have issued a joint call for urgent action to address the looming malaria emergency. They warned that if we do not act now, we will put at risk both the African Union’s goal of eliminating malaria in Africa by 2030 and the UN’s goal of ending malaria. malaria epidemics by 2030.

At a news conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, leaders warned that the world faces the greatest malaria emergency in two decades, due to a real storm of climate change, of increasing resistance impacting the effectiveness of treatment. insecticides, antimalarials and rapid diagnostic tests, as well as insufficient funding linked to the global financial crisis.

– His Excellency President Umaro Sissoco Embaló, President of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau and Chairman of the African Leaders Alliance Against Malaria, painted an alarming picture.: “We are at a critical moment. Current resources are insufficient to even sustain life-saving malaria programs, posing the most serious threat to malaria elimination over the past 20 years. If we do not act quickly to close the immediate $1.5 billion shortfall and mobilize the necessary resources, we will undoubtedly see resurgences and epidemics of malaria.

Examples were shared of how the current global financial crisis has led to a significant increase in the cost of essential malaria interventions. Countries now face increasing levels of insecticide and drug resistance that require newer, more expensive tools and approaches to combat effectively. The leaders also explained how the impacts of climate change, including increased extreme weather events such as rising temperatures, floods and cyclones, and resulting humanitarian emergencies, are expanding the areas affected by malaria and program implementation costs. These higher costs lead to the reversal of hard-won progress in the fight against malaria.

“Defeating malaria across the continent is a priority. If we do not defeat this age-old disease, we will fail to achieve the goals we have set for healthy citizens and socio-economic transformation. We must achieve the ambitious goals set out in the Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030, the African Health Strategy and Africa’s Agenda 2063, the Africa that we want. We must ensure that we maintain our political commitment and continue to translate these commitments into concrete actions. While most AU Member States are far from reaching the goal of eliminating malaria by 2030, there is still much to do. » said Professor Julio Rakotonirina, Director of Health and Humanitarian Affairs at the African Union Commission.

During the press conference, leaders discussed accelerating the launch of high-level national multi-sectoral advice and funds to end malaria and neglected tropical diseases to keep malaria at the top of the national health agenda. development and resource mobilization, as well as increasing domestic financing for the public and private sectors. Examples were shared of increasing public sector budget allocation to health and malaria. They addressed the priority given to health and malaria financing in country allocations of World Bank International Development Association (IDA) funding; and the use of debt swaps. The World Bank has been asked to commit to a new malaria program to facilitate the additional financing needed to fill immediate gaps, with additional commitments from regional development banks. Increasing international funding from traditional donors and new donor markets remains essential.

Dr Michael Charles, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, said: “The malaria situation is extremely precarious. While we saw notable progress in the fight against the disease in the early 2000s thanks to the immense support received for malaria programs, in recent years we have seen an overall plateau in funding due to other health pressures such as the COVID pandemic and the global economic slowdown. As a result, we now face the greatest malaria emergency in decades. This disease already kills around 600,000 people per year and kills one child every minute. Unless we act more urgently, we will see the situation worsen and the progress we have made reversed. We face a multitude of challenges, from climate change to insecticide resistance, but we also have the opportunity to succeed, and even use our response to malaria as an entry point to strengthen health systems in ways that wider. To do this, we must integrate, innovate, accelerate and secure the financing necessary to cross the line to elimination and eradication.

HE President Embaló called on his fellow heads of state, government and partners to act: “Now is the time to fully fund the fight against malaria to ensure the disease is eliminated for good. This can be achieved through integrated approaches, with malaria being a key frontrunner in health systems strengthening for UHC and pandemic preparedness; as well as to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change.”

The fight against malaria is at a crossroads. It is up to countries, regions and the global community to protect the gains made over the past two decades and achieve the 2030 goal of ending malaria epidemics and creating a malaria-free Africa.

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