Five African Leaders of the “End Malaria Council” have joined forces to eliminate malaria across the continent. The End Malaria Council is a committed group of the global public sector and business leaders that see malaria eradication as a critical health and development priority, and that drives progress toward eradication by focusing on three key areas namely; leadership, financing, and technology.
The Council in a joint statement and four-pronged action plan released on May 11, 2020, called on African and world leaders to act quickly to protect the decades of gains against malaria; boost African purchasing power and local manufacturing of critical medical supplies; continue investments in building an essential health workforce; and, use data to maximize limited resources to save lives.
Those leaders that signed include, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya and Chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, Jakaya Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, African billionaire Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of the Dangote Group, and Graça Machel, Founder, The Grace Machel Trust and Foundation for Community Development.
“Prioritizing frontline health workers’ safety is a critical investment in the COVID-19 response,” the release quoted former president Sirleaf, “that will provide short and long-term benefits; ensuring that these health workers are equipped with the necessary protective equipment, diagnostics, and data tools that will protect health workers and empower them to interrupt the virus while maintaining life-saving services against existing diseases like malaria.”
“I am committed to working with fellow heads of state and government on a coordinated and harmonized response to COVID-19 those stamps out this pandemic while continuing to provide essential health services to our citizens. Nothing is more important than protecting our women, children, and men from preventable and treatable diseases like malaria. These efforts will help us to sustain the significant gains that we have made driving down malaria cases and deaths over the past twenty years,” says Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya.
Jakaya Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania said: “To fight COVID-19 effectively and ensure hard-won gains in malaria are not lost, African nations must strengthen essential regional partnerships to develop coordinated and collaborative approaches to support public health systems.”
“African governments face challenging resource constraints as they seek to control and respond to COVID-19, but must avoid diverting funds from essential health campaigns that protect the most vulnerable populations, including children and pregnant women. By prioritizing the mobilization of new funding to combat the pandemic, African nations can address the needs of the pandemic without interrupting vital delivery of other life-saving health programs,” says Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of the Dangote Group.
According to them, with the EBOLA outbreak in Africa in 2014-2016 they have an urgent opportunity to learn from and take swift action to save precious lives, especially children under 5 and pregnant women who are disproportionately impacted by malaria.
The leaders said taking action now will protect hard-won gains to improve standards of health and access to essential health services that have been achieved over the last two decades.
They said combating COVID-19 will require keeping people safe from malaria and maintaining investments that further strengthen health systems, particularly at the sub-national and community levels.
“To protect millions against COVID-19 and preventable, infectious diseases like malaria, we call on leaders to; Protect the Gains on Malaria, Boost African Purchasing Power, and Local Manufacturing of Critical Medical Supplies, Build an Essential Health Workforce and Maximize Limited Resources to Save Lives,” said the leaders in a collective tone.