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Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO, RBM Partnership to End Malaria

This World Malaria Day, Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, discusses the urgent need to step up commitment and investment to end malaria.

History proves that continued commitment and investment in malaria elimination pays dividends. Since 2000, global progress has saved seven million lives and prevented more than one billion cases of malaria, enabling millions of children to stay in school, parents to work, and economies to grow.

Today, more countries than ever are close to elimination. Just last year, Paraguay and Uzbekistan were certified malaria-free, and Algeria and Argentina have requested malaria-free certification from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The time for action is now

But, after decades of progress, malaria cases have risen in high burden countries in the last two years. There were 3.5 million more cases among the 10 highest burden African countries in 2017 than in 2016. As the floods of Cyclone Idai come to a standstill, one of these countries – Mozambique – is now facing the threat of a malaria epidemic as stagnant water attracts breeding mosquitoes and the health services are under growing pressure.

Accelerating progress

Last year, Commonwealth Heads of Government committed to halve malaria by 2023 across the 53 Commonwealth nations. One year on, leaders representing French-speaking countries, where over 300 million people are at risk of malaria, are today gathering in Paris to discuss similar commitments to end malaria starting with Francophone Mayors, who will sign a declaration committing to integrate malaria in urban development strategies in support of global efforts towards a malaria-free world.

Continued progress toward ending malaria requires greater investment in innovation and ensuring access to these innovations by affected populations. Today, new tools such as innovative antimalarials, new methods for vector control, interventions to minimise insecticide and drug resistance, and better use of data to improve targeting of resources have great potential to accelerate progress.

One important development we are watching closely this World Malaria Day is underway in Ghana, Malawi, and Kenya, where country leadership has resulted in the roll-out of the first trial vaccine for malaria, RTS,S.

Leaders across the globe must now prioritise funding and programmes that will save more lives, continue to reduce the malaria burden, build stronger health systems, and reignite the pace of progress against the disease.

Empowering communities

Together, members of society can also have considerable impact. Last year, the African Union endorsed “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” – a new initiative seeking to empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and hold government and private sector leaders accountable for meeting malaria commitments.

Already, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia have joined the Zero Malaria movement and today, several more countries, including Ghana and Sierra Leone, will also adopt the initiative. Supporting these efforts, a new coalition of civil society organisations – Civil Society for Malaria Elimination (CS4ME) – has also been created to empower communities and civil society to advocate for more effective, sustainable and people-centred, malaria programmes.

Stepping up the fight

2019 is a crucial year of action in the fight against malaria. In October, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria calls on all countries to pledge at least US$14 billion in funding for these diseases. Accounting for approximately 60% of funding for anti-malaria programmes worldwide, the importance of reaching this target cannot be overestimated.

This World Malaria Day, join us and global partners in calling on leaders to step up the fight to end malaria by following through on their commitments and investing the resources the Global Fund needs to save millions more lives.