ALMA statement on World Health Day 2024

Published: 9 April 2024

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance joins the international community in commemorating World Health Day. Health is wealth and without health, there cannot be any social progress and advancement of societies. This World Health Day, we are starkly reminded that access to essential health services is a fundamental human rights issue. Despite the sustained political commitments, translating these into concrete action faces huge challenges and competing priorities that affect basic access to health care provisions across the continent.

Africa faces the most severe challenges in maternal and child health globally. The World Health Organization reports that Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for approximately 66% of global maternal deaths, with a maternal mortality ratio of about 546 per 100,000 live births. Child mortality rates in Africa are similarly alarming; UNICEF data indicate that the continent has the highest child mortality rates globally, with approximately 76 deaths per 1,000 live births for children under five. Furthermore, diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), compounded by malnutrition and inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene promotion significantly impact maternal and child health. Besides causing deaths, these conditions also lead to long-term health complications that severely impact the quality of life, education, human capital development and transformation of our societies.

Advancing towards universal health coverage remains a priority across Africa including Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health and Nutrition (RMNCAH+N). Comprehensive access to reproductive health services is fundamental but our mothers risk death in the act of giving life. Safe childbirth and newborn health are not only medical issues; they are critical human rights that reflect the health and the advancement of our societies. Ensuring proper nutrition is essential not only for the physical well being and cognitive development of our children bur is essential for good educational outcomes. Without this foundation, young people cannot reach their full potential, thereby compromising both their futures and the broader progress of society.

Achieving the right to health, especially for the most vulnerable in our communities, requires us to urgently address malaria, Neglected Tropical Diseases and RMNCAH+N, whilst strengthening health systems, and increasing the resilience of public health infrastructure. We already know that malaria, for example, serves as a pathfinder for health system strengthening, primary health care, and pandemic preparedness and response. Yet, Africa is at the epicenter of a perfect storm that threatens to disrupt essential life-saving malaria services. The continent still bears the heaviest global burden of malaria and financial constraints, biological threats such as drug and insecticide resistance, and the intensifying effects of climate change continue to undermine the progress made in combating malaria.

Achieving Africa’s New Public Health Order that is fundamental for global health security requires strong readiness for pandemics, swift response capabilities, and effective management of emerging disease threats and recurring health crises. This comprehensive preparedness not only mitigates the impacts of pandemics but also establishes Africa as a resilient player in global health security. Such readiness not only protects the health of Africa’s populations but also reinforces our role in sustaining worldwide health security.

Innovative tools such as the country-specific RMNCAH and nutrition-specific scorecard tools prove invaluable. These scorecards enable progress tracking at sub-national levels, facilitate comparisons between regions, and help identify areas requiring additional support. By supporting informed, data-driven decision-making, these tools address nutrition-related challenges and health disparities, improving health outcomes across the continent. The ALMA Scorecard for Accountability and Action, along with country RMNCAH scorecard tools, monitor essential health indicators. Tailored to reflect the priorities outlined in national RMNCAH strategic plans, these tools empower countries to lead their health improvements with precision and transparency. To date, ALMA has assisted over 30 countries in developing and implementing these scorecards, significantly enhancing resource allocation and the effectiveness of health interventions across Africa.

The commitments by African Governments outlined in the recent Yaoundé Declaration are critical. There is a pressing need to translate these commitments into action and accelerate their implementation. Under the Yaoundé Declaration, African countries burdened with malaria have pledged to intensify their efforts through sound leadership, significant investments in healthcare infrastructure, and innovative strategies to confront the disease head-on. Consequently, the global community must enhance its support while Africa proactively contributes the additional resources necessary to eliminate the disease once and for all. As we advocate for the right to health, we must fully commit to ensuring that everyone everywhere has access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without suffering financial hardship. This is the true embodiment of the principle, “My Health, My Right.”

Related content


African health ministers commit to ending malaria deaths

Health ministers from the African countries with the heaviest burden of malaria have pledged to significantly advance the fight...