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African ministers vow to end malaria deaths

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By Abraham Adekunle

Rally to end malaria-related deaths in African nations with highest burdens.

Health ministers representing African nations burdened by the highest malaria rates have convened in Yaoundé, Cameroon, pledging to intensify efforts to eradicate deaths caused by the disease. This resolute commitment emerged during a ministerial conference where leaders signed a declaration vowing to provide decisive leadership, bolster domestic funding for malaria control initiatives, and harness the power of data technology to combat the scourge. The conference, co-hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Cameroon, served as a platform for ministers, global malaria partners, funding agencies, scientists, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to deliberate on progress and challenges in achieving the objectives outlined in the WHO global malaria strategy.

Among the key objectives were reviewing progress, strategizing for accelerated malaria mortality reduction in Africa, and charting a roadmap for enhanced political commitment and societal involvement in malaria control. Mr. Manaouda Malachie, Cameroon’s Minister for Health, underscored the collective resolve among nations and partners to shield their populations from the devastating impact of malaria. He stressed the imperative of translating this shared commitment into tangible actions, especially considering Africa’s disproportionate burden of global malaria cases and deaths.

WHO urges action against malaria crisis in Africa.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, highlighted the gravity of the malaria situation in the region, where 94% of global cases and 95% of global deaths occur. In 2022 alone, an estimated 580,000 lives were lost to malaria. Dr. Ghebreyesus attributed the recent stagnation in progress to various factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, drug and insecticide resistance, funding shortfalls, and limited access to essential tools. The declaration aligns with the “High Burden to High Impact” approach, which emphasizes political will, strategic information, better guidance, and coordinated national malaria responses.

Again, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, stressed the urgency of robust commitment, increased funding, evidence-based interventions, addressing climate change impacts, and forging strong partnerships to combat malaria effectively. Amidst Africa’s struggle against malaria, Nigeria stands as one of the hardest-hit countries, grappling with a significant burden of the disease. According to WHO estimates, Nigeria accounts for a substantial portion of global malaria cases and deaths, with millions of cases reported annually and a high mortality rate attributed to the disease.

Nigeria still faces persistent malaria challenges.

In Nigeria, malaria remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly among vulnerable populations such as children under five years old and pregnant women. The disease exerts a heavy toll on public health, straining healthcare systems, undermining economic productivity, and perpetuating cycles of poverty. Despite concerted efforts to combat malaria in Nigeria, challenges persist, including limited access to healthcare services, inadequate funding for malaria control programs, drug resistance, and gaps in mosquito vector control measures.

These challenges underscore the importance of sustained commitment, innovative strategies, and multi-sectoral collaboration in the fight against malaria. To address the malaria crisis effectively, Nigeria has implemented various interventions, including the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, prompt diagnosis and treatment, and public awareness campaigns. Additionally, the country has intensified efforts to strengthen healthcare infrastructure, improve surveillance systems, and enhance capacity-building initiatives to equip healthcare workers with the skills and resources needed to combat malaria effectively.

Related Article: Rising cost of malaria care put PHC on risk

Furthermore, Nigeria has prioritized research and development initiatives to advance the development of new tools, technologies, and interventions for malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Collaborative efforts between government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, and international partners have been instrumental in driving progress in the fight against malaria in Nigeria. Moving forward, sustained political commitment, increased investment in healthcare infrastructure and human resources, community engagement, and innovative approaches tailored to the local context will be crucial in accelerating progress towards malaria elimination in Nigeria and across the African continent. Through collective action and solidarity, Nigeria can turn the tide against malaria and build a healthier, more resilient future for its citizens.

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