SADC intensifies malaria elimination efforts

Published: 30 November 2023 (Luanda, Angola)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is escalating its fight against malaria, with a renewed focus on domestic investment, international collaboration, and community-driven initiatives. The annual SADC Malaria Day, celebrated this year in Luanda, Angola, highlighted the ongoing and multifaceted efforts to tackle malaria, a public health challenge impacting approximately 83.2% of the SADC population in malaria-prone areas.

During the SADC Malaria Week, Member States focused on intensifying efforts to lower the burden of malaria. In 2022, the region reported an alarming 66.8 million malaria cases and over 42,000 deaths.

Speaking at the commemoration event, Honorable Dr. Sílvia Paula Valentim Lutucuta, Angola’s Minister of Health, underscored the dual challenge of securing funding for malaria elimination and addressing emerging threats like insecticide resistance, which necessitates the adoption of next-generation vector control commodities. She stressed the need for SADC Member States to expedite their endeavors in formulating and executing national strategies for monitoring drug resistance, and ensuring rigorous testing and treatment protocols aligned with both national and global guidelines.

Her Excellency, Ms. Angele Makombo N’tumba, Deputy Secretary for Regional Integration at SADC acknowledged the complex cross-border dynamics of malaria transmission, necessitating collaborative efforts for effective control. She called upon Member States to intensify multisectoral cooperation, robust surveillance, and community engagement in the fight against malaria. While commending successful initiatives like the E8 coalition and MOSASWA, she specifically urged Member States nearing elimination, such as South Africa, Eswatini, Namibia, and Botswana, to expedite actions aimed at achieving the feasible goal of zero local transmission.

SADC Malaria Day marks the culmination of the annual Joint Meeting of the SADC Ministers of Health and Ministers Responsible for HIV/AIDS. This day aims to garner political support, renew commitments to malaria elimination, prepare countries for coordinated high-impact activities in the region, raise multi-stakeholder awareness, and mobilize communities to actively participate in malaria control programmes. This year’s SADC Malaria Day culminated in the launch of the ‘Zero Malaria Starts With Me’ campaign in Angola, making Angola the 28th African country to join this movement.

With the Heads of State and Government of the African Union having called for malaria-endemic countries to accelerate the launch of national ‘Zero Malaria Starts With Me’ campaigns, this launch represents a significant step towards increased advocacy, resource mobilization, and accountability in the region’s fight against malaria. The campaign aims to engage communities as change agents and involves a variety of stakeholders, including traditional and faith leaders, government officials, and influential figures, to drive impactful social change and solutions. Angola joins a list of SADC countries including Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and the United Republic of Tanzania in championing the ‘Zero Malaria Starts With Me’ campaign.

“I extend my congratulations to Angola for taking up this commendable initiative in further galvanizing its people. This effort to empower communities and mobilize strong support from political, the private sector, and community leaders is essential in enhancing malaria prevention, treatment, and ultimately saving lives,” stated H.E Anthony Okara, ALMA Special Ambassador, as he encouraged other SADC Member States to join the movement.

Noting the significance of the Zero Malaria Starts With Me Campaign in accelerating the establishment of End Malaria Councils and Funds, Gen. Dr Kaka Mudambo, Eastern and Southern Coordinator at the RBM Partnership to End Malaia further noted,” in collaboration with ALMA, we are committed to supporting Angola in the establishment of their End Malaria Council and Fund, enabling the mobilization of resources to strengthen efforts against malaria.”

The SADC Malaria Week features a series of pivotal activities, commencing with the SADC Health Ministers meeting on November 28, hosted by Angola. This meeting is a crucial platform for collectively overseeing the implementation of the regional health agenda, enhancing collaborative efforts for malaria elimination in the SADC region. Guided by the three-year theme ‘Resilient Health Systems and Communities: Key to Malaria Elimination,’ this year’s commemoration saw the support and participation of local and international stakeholders, including malaria partners, development partners, NGOs, the private sector, and various communities.

As the SADC region actively advances in its efforts to overcome the challenges of malaria, Member States call for sustained international support and increased domestic financing to close the substantial funding gaps. SADC countries renewed their commitment to eliminating malaria by 2030, aligning with the goals of the Windhoek Declaration and the African Union targets.