African governments have been urged to invest more in the fight against malaria to realize the African Union’s goal of eliminating the disease from the continent by 2030.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is chairman of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, called for enhanced efforts in the fight against the disease.
“We are not on track to eliminate malaria by 2030 unless far-reaching strategies are adopted and executed to the latter,” Kenyatta said.
Africa accounts for 96 percent of malaria cases globally and 98 percent of deaths.
Kenyatta made these remarks at a news briefing shortly after presenting a 2021 malaria progress report at the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday.
In 2020, the continent reported 232 million malaria cases and 611,802 malaria deaths, including an additional 16 million cases and 69,000 deaths due to COVID-19 disruptions to malaria programs and broader health services.
Children under the age of 5 made up 80 percent of malaria deaths.
Despite the grim picture, Kenyatta noted that the continent has made significant progress in the war against the disease in the last two years.
He attributed the success to a four-point program implemented by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, including digitization, action and resource mobilization, regional coordination and access to lifesaving commodities.
Kenyatta said Kenya launched the African Leaders Malaria Alliance score card hub last year to enable countries to share health outcomes and best practices.
“To date, 13 countries are sharing their score cards on the hub. I encourage all the remaining countries to utilize this platform,” he said.
The two-day summit, which concluded on Sunday, was also marked by calls for continued African solidarity in addressing the impact of COVID-19 and the urgent need to address the scourge of unconstitutional government changes and terrorism across the continent.
Senegalese President Macky Sall, who took over the annual rotating AU chairmanship from Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, emphasized the need to exert concerted efforts in responding to continental threats such as instability, climate change and the devastating impacts of the ongoing pandemic.
“We need to focus our attention on building our countries and also ensuring continental integration,” Sall said. “And there cannot be development and integration, where there is no peace, no security and no stability.”