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Malaria Day: World leaders announce new initiatives to accelerate progress

Leaders from across the globe on Thursday, April 25, 2019 met in Paris, France to renew commitments and announce new initiatives to accelerate the global movement to end malaria in our lifetime.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Photo credit: AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI / Getty Images

This year’s World Malaria Day seeks to encourage as many people as possible, including governments, private sector leaders, scientists and citizens from across the globe to make a personal commitment to end malaria, in line with this year’s theme: “Zero Malaria Starts with Me”.

The theme aims to remind citizens everywhere, and particularly in malaria burdened countries, of the personal responsibility we all must protect communities from the disease and hold governments to account.

Since 2000, global efforts have saved seven million lives and prevented more than a billion cases of malaria. However, observers say a child still dies of malaria every two minutes, and more than half the world’s population remains at risk of malaria. Global leaders on Thursday announced several important initiatives in the global fight against malaria. These include:

  • Three African countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – will pilot a first-generation vaccine for malaria, known as RTS, S / AS01 (RTS, S). The pilot will reach around 360,000 children per year in areas identified by the three countries.
  • New countries, including Ghana and Sierra Leone, announce their commitment to the pan-Africa Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign, launching country-owned initiatives which empower citizens and leaders alike to take ownership of the fight against malaria. Supported by The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), further End Malaria Councils and Funds are also underway in five African countries.
  • With many families living in countries at risk of malaria still sleeping without a mosquito net, Senegal is launching a joint bed nets distribution campaign with The Gambia. Meanwhile, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria confirms partners are on track to reaching a key malaria milestone this year: distributing two billion mosquito nets since the year 2000.
  • Thursday also marked the official launch of the Civil Society for Malaria Elimination network (CS4ME), which unites civil society organisations and communities affected by malaria to advocate for more effective, sustainable and people-centred malaria programmes. The new organisation aims to encourage grassroots movements on malaria and ensure that decision-making is inclusive for those communities most affected by malaria.
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A high-level conference to debate progress and challenges in the fight against malaria took place inside Hôtel de Ville as part of the official World Malaria Day celebrations. The conference was attended by high-level leaders such as the First Ladies of Niger and Haiti and Mayors of Niamey and Freetown, among others.

In addition, further public-facing activities spanning art, sport and culture took place in the heart of Paris, including:

  • The unveiling of a work of art designed by graffiti-artist Cyril Kongo
  • A football tournament with players comprising famous faces from the world of sport
  • Educational activities on malaria for young children
  • Renowned musicians in concert, including Oxmo Puccino and Ben L’Oncle Soul

As well as the official events in Paris, events took place around the world to engage local authorities and communities, including a gathering of Commonwealth leaders in London, which marked a year since Commonwealth leaders committed to halve malaria by the year 2023 and events in Bangkok, also marking Asia-Pacific Malaria Week.

After decades of progress, for the past two years cases of malaria have increased in the highest burden countries, inspiring the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and the World Health Organisation to catalyse a new “High Burden to High Impact” country-led approach.

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The 2019 World Malaria Day highlights the importance of France and Francophone countries’ engagement in the fight against malaria, as half of the 10 highest malaria burdened countries in Africa are Francophone countries; Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC, Mali and Niger. Together, they account for one-quarter of the global malaria burden.

The 2019 World Malaria Day comes ahead of the Sixth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria which takes place in Lyon on October 10. The Global Fund seeks to raise at least $14 billion to step up the fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which will be essential to maintain progress and help save 16 million lives, reduce the mortality rate for the three diseases by half and prevent 234 million new infections among the three diseases by 2023.

Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO, RBM Partnership to End Malaria, says: “2019 is a crucial year in the fight against malaria. We need to step up the fight with increased commitments from governments, businesses and individuals. We must ensure the Global Fund secures the funding it needs to continue saving millions more lives with lifesaving malaria preventions and treatments and increased access to innovative interventions. Representing around 60% of all global investment for the fight against malaria, the Global Fund’s importance cannot be underestimated. I urge everyone to be accountable in the fight by declaring ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’.”

Peter Sands, Executive Director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, adds: “The fight against malaria has been an extraordinary success, but malaria is a formidable adversary that won’t be eliminated without unrelenting focus and effort. We need to increase resources and political commitment, and we need to invest in new tools and innovations to combat insecticide and drug resistance. If we don’t, we will see a resurgence – with more cases and more deaths.”

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Anne Hidalgo, Mayor, City of Paris, comments: “The city of Paris is proud to host this year’s World Malaria Day. With more than 6 million euros spent each year, Paris is one of the principal local authority contributors to international aid, particularly in the areas of health, combatting pandemics and sanitation. I hope that this day will enable us to raise awareness of the importance of this commitment among Parisians, as it fully reflects the solidarity of Paris. It constitutes a first step in view to build a productive cooperation with francophone cities, members of the International Association of Francophone Mayors, which I have the honour to chair.”

In addition, the International Association of Francophone Mayors has signed a declaration entitled “Zéro Palu! Les Maires francophones s’engagent” (Zero malaria starts with us!), affirming: “As mayors, we have an important role to play in the control and elimination of malaria in urban settings, which – alongside other vector-borne diseases – can be worsened by a lack of access to adequate sanitation facilities, substandard housing and infrastructure, and limited access to good quality health services.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, says: “For World Malaria Day, we’re joining countries and partners with a clear message: ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’. We’re calling on political leaders, the private sector and affected communities to act to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria. We all have a role to play. Ultimately, investing in universal health coverage is the best way to ensure that all communities have access to the services they need to beat malaria – and every other disease.”


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