Gaborone, 31 August 2023 – Ministers of Health, donors, and partners convened during the high-level side event on malaria financing at the RC73 side event in Gaborone with a resounding call for all African countries to prioritize funding in the battle against malaria. The event highlighted that a collective, integrated effort is paramount in the battle against malaria.
“Malaria is a pathfinder for pandemic preparedness, health systems strengthening and mitigating the impact of climate change. Malaria financing supports the community health workers who can test, track and treat malaria and detect emerging pandemics. Malaria programming helps to strengthen data systems and improve the supply chain. Increased health financing including for malaria programming is essential if we are to achieve malaria elimination in Africa.” said Joy Phumaphi, ALMA Executive Secretary.
Despite the 27% reduction in malaria incidence between 2000 and 2020, the WHO African Region still shoulders over 95% of global malaria cases and deaths. The region is off track to meet the targets set by the AU Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030.
Africa is facing key threats including escalating costs due to the global financial crisis which is making the cost of delivering malaria interventions much more expensive. Biological threats including insecticide and drug resistance; parasite evasion of rapid diagnostic tests and the invasion of new mosquitoes are impacting progress. Climate change including increased flooding and cyclones are affecting vector distribution and malaria transmission.
A review of the 2022 World Malaria report showed that countries and partners mobilized only about 50% of the estimated US$ 7.3 billion required globally to stay on track to defeat malaria. The challenge is underscored by alarming statistics from countries: a more than US$1.5 billion funding gap just to sustain existing coverage over the next three years threatens to hinder Africa’s progress.
“Beyond closing the immediate gap, we must work to fully secure the resources needed to eliminate malaria once and for all,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “It is essential that additional resources are mobilized, including from country domestic public and private sectors, to prevent significant reversal of the progress made.”
Dr. Silvia Lutucuta, the Honourable Minister of Health of Angola, advocated for a multisectoral approach. “We must collaborate with academic institutions, strengthen regional partnerships, and mobilize more financial resources for malaria control,” she said.
Ambassador Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development of the African Union Commission, spotlighted the need for integrated efforts. “We must integrate the fight against malaria into broader health financing frameworks, understanding its significance in pandemic response and the journey towards universal health coverage,” she articulated.
The ministerial side event explored a variety of opportunities to meet the gaps, including the establishment of National End Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases councils and Funds to maintain malaria high on the national development and financing agenda. Eswatini and Zambia have both mobilized significant public and private sector domestic resources through their Councils and Funds. Thandile Nxumalo, Chair of the Fund for Eswatini Malaria Elimination, shed light on their impactful journey: “We need a joint effort, much like our response to COVID-19. Funds will be forthcoming when the public and private sector are educated and engaged.”
Botswana’s Honourable Minister for Finance, Peggy Serame, highlighted a 28% rise in the national budget for malaria in the past five years. Zambia’s Honourable Minister for Health, Dr. Sylvia Masebo, shared that the government has procured vector control commodities including mosquito nets and insecticides.
H.E. Elias M. Magosi, Executive Secretary of SADC, underscored the urgency of action, stressing the role of commitment and leadership. “African leaders must re-energize a broad partnership for innovative, inclusive, and effective malaria responses,” he remarked.
The delegates culminated with a series of recommendations, emphasizing the need for integrated financing approaches including prioritizing health and malaria in the World Bank IDA allocations, as well as resources from the regional development banks.
The Ministerial side event underscored current threats and presented vital opportunities for resource mobilization, from national councils and funds to donor funding including continued support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Fund and US Presidents Malaria Intitiative.
Prof. Sheila Dinotshe Tlou, Special Ambassador in the Fight Against Malaria, chaired this high-level side event, with Dr. Michael Charles of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria facilitating the proceedings.
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