Filipe J. Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique
As we commemorate World Malaria Day, roughly a month has passed since Cyclone IDAI made landfall in my country during the night of 14 March, leaving a trail of destruction of social and economic infrastructure in central Mozambique, neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi.
In Mozambique, the worst hit country, whole villages have disappeared and many communities have been isolated. The strong winds and rain have left 603 people dead so far. Some are still missing.
Thanks to solidarity among Mozambican people at all levels of society and government efforts we’ve been able to handle this gigantic humanitarian disaster. Support has also come from the international community, for which, we are thankful.
The focus of this article is malaria, a water vector disease transmitted by a mosquito, which needs water or moisture to breed. We know that as soon as the floodwaters stop flowing and start to settle, mosquitoes will breed, increasing the threat of malaria infections and deaths. To make matters worse 65 health facilities where Mozambicans would normally seek treatment for diseases such as malaria, have been destroyed.
Changes have been made to combat infection
The challenge is huge but we have been taking significant steps to prevent an increase in malaria cases. We are ensuring availability of immediate testing and provision of medicines as well as fast tracking our universal mosquito net coverage programme by making available more than 100,000 mosquito nets to populations at risk and distributing 500,000 more in the affected areas. These measures have resulted in no malaria deaths being reported in the temporary shelters and health centres.
On World Malaria Day, we will begin an In-house Spraying Campaign in the four districts affected by malaria.
While we are delivering humanitarian assistance to almost 1.3 million people, through the provision of emergency shelter, food, water and re-establishment of social services such as clinics, schools, roads, electricity and communications, we are also establishing much longer-term post-IDAI reconstruction mechanisms.
Mozambique is one of the 10 countries worldwide most affected by malaria. In 2017 malaria cases rose to 10 million from 9.7 million in 2016.
Consistent support is needed to fight malaria
For us to make a significant difference, annually, we need an estimated 125 million USD. The Global Fund to Fight HIV / AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has been our main source of external funding for malaria prevention and treatment hence we support the Global Fund’s full replenishment to finance the work of saving lives. Goodbye Malaria Foundation has partnered with us in managing donations to our Malaria Control Programme.
Our strategy to control malaria is in line with the Statement by Commonwealth Heads of State and Government and the policies of other international and regional bodies on the elimination of malaria.
In June last year, we held a National Malaria Forum to launch the “Zero Malaria Begins with Me” campaign. In the fight against malaria, in partnership with the African Union and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, we have adopted an approach requiring all stakeholders to work together at all times and at all levels. We are also establishing an End Malaria Council and a fund to ensure that malaria is addressed at the highest levels in both the public and private sector.
In addition, we have joined 10 other countries, through the “High Burden to High Impact” response designed to help Africa end malaria by 2030. In November last year, Mozambique hosted the launch of both the 2018 World Malaria Report and the country-led response plan.
Innovation and collaboration is needed to achieve a malaria free world
Important research into malaria has been carried out in Mozambique, with researchers finding results that might make a difference in the fight against the disease. There is no doubt that innovation and new tools are needed to get us to a malaria free world. A case in point is the Mopeia District, in Zambézia Province, which recently hosted field trials for a new insecticide that might help prevent mosquitoes from developing resistance to mosquito nets and sprays. I call upon the relevant entities to give the necessary attention to these research results.
In the region we are working with the Kingdom of Eswatini and the Republic of South Africa in a regional initiative called MOSASWA, in the prevention and fight against malaria to improve the health of our people.
Malaria does not only negatively affect people, families and communities, it also slows the development of the country hence our message is straightforward – We must stop IT’S spread!
Our chosen strategy to combat malaria includes investments in increasing community knowledge on prevention methods and the use of this knowledge to help people to change their behaviour and improve the sanitation of the environments they live in, through for instance, the elimination of mosquito breeding sites.
Finally, on this important day, we would like to associate ourselves with this global movement against malaria and reaffirm our full commitment to the elimination of this disease.