GLOBAL FUND COMMITS US $17.8 MIILLION TO SUPPORT MALARIA ELIMINATION EFFORTS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

In support of the vision for a malaria-free southern Africa, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has strengthened its commitment to the region through a US$17.8 million grant to the Elimination 8 (E8) regional initiative.

The regional grant will complement US$275 million in country-level Global Fund grants over the next three years for malaria in the region, and will accelerate progress towards malaria elimination.

The E8 is a coordinated, eight-country effort that aims to eliminate malaria in four southern African countries by 2020 – Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland, and subsequently pave the way for elimination in four more by 2030 – Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Across the eight countries, malaria cases have decreased by more than 50% since 2004 (World Malaria Report, 2014), contributing to the achievement of the malaria target in Millennium Development Goal 6.

The new, three-year grant will build on this success by catalysing regional activities that are designed to accelerate the pace of country progress towards achieving malaria elimination in southern Africa. This includes addressing some of the regional challenges that threaten malaria progress: the high frequency of people crossing borders and ensuring access to early diagnosis and treatment of malaria in border regions.

“The increasing level of population movement across porous country borders necessitates a joint approach to fighting malaria,” says Dr Richard Nchabi Kamwi (former Minister of Health and Social Services in Namibia, founding chairperson of the E8 Ministerial Committee and current E8 ambassador) during a recent interview with Aidspan. “Together as a region, we must join efforts in combating this disease as a united force.”

The grant will support the development of a regional malaria surveillance system and database, and the establishment of a regional laboratory – both of which will improve the region’s capacity to collectively understand where malaria transmission is occurring and how best to contain it. This new infrastructure will greatly enhance the ability of E8 member countries to prevent and respond to malaria outbreaks in the region.

Today, in recognition of this substantial grant for malaria elimination in southern Africa, ministers of health from the E8 member countries joined national malaria programme managers, technical partners and representatives of the Global Fund for a grant signing ceremony in Kasane, Botswana. The ceremony coincides with the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Health Ministers Meeting and SADC Malaria Day.

The Honourable Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane, Minister of Health of Swaziland, serves as the Chair of the E8. Speaking at the ceremony, Ndlela-Simelane commented on the critical role of robust surveillance in designing responsive strategies, amid changing and complex border movement dynamics.
“Each border in southern Africa has different challenges. However, malaria parasite movement through mobile and migrant populations remains a key challenge for all of us. The new Global Fund grant will support us in working together to tackle this critical cross-border issue,” said Ndlela-Simelane.

The E8 Secretariat, based in Windhoek, Namibia, and led by a Director, Ms Kudzai Makomva, will serve as the principal recipient of the grant.

According to Makomva, “The Global Fund grant provides an important opportunity for proof-of-concept of this specific set of border-focused interventions. Countries have been discussing cross-border collaboration for some time, but there are limited models of how to effect transformational change. Now, with these resources, we will be able to demonstrate how strategies like border surveillance and expanded diagnosis and treatment capacity can limit importation and eliminate remaining malaria transmission.”

For further information, contact the Elimination 8 Secretariat at operations@elimination8.org.