Eight countries prove it is possible to stop malaria
With the human and financial resources deployed to combat the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt that health services are facing major disruption.
The results of a World Health Organization (WHO) report on malaria released this month (April 21) show that about a third of the world’s countries have reported disruptions in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria in the first quarter of 2021.
Despite this, seven countries – Algeria, Belize, Cape Verde, China, El Salvador, Iran, Malaysia and Paraguay – have managed to meet the WHO malaria elimination target. by the end of last year.
How these countries were able to reach the elimination milestone and what African leaders can learn from their experiences are some of the key questions discussed during a virtual forum on malaria elimination, co-hosted by the Partnership. RBM to End Malaria and WHO last week (April 21).
According to the forum, the key to their success was a combination of political commitment, strong primary health care systems and a robust data system.
Success is driven, above all, by political commitment in a malaria-endemic country to end the disease and this commitment translates into domestic funding that is often sustained for many decades, even after a country is free from malaria. “
Pedro Alonso, Director, Global Malaria Program, WHO
All countries that have reached zero malaria cases have in common strong primary health care systems that ensure access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services, without financial hardship, for all people living in the country. ‘within their borders, regardless of their nationality or legal status.
It is clear that until all health services, including those targeting malaria, are provided free of charge to all, regardless of nationality or legal status, it will be extremely difficult to eradicate malaria across Africa. .
African leaders must borrow a leaf from Algeria and Cape Verde, where diagnosis and treatment has been provided free of charge, not just for their citizens, in an effort to stem the tide of cases imported from mainland Africa.
These countries have shown that it is possible to stop malaria. As Alonso said: “For Algeria to eliminate malaria in the face of massive complexities, it is possible to achieve zero malaria globally. If the 25 additional countries selected by WHO to reach stage d ‘Eliminating malaria by 2025 can join the celebration, it will be a massive source of inspiration for the rest of the high burden countries like Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “
But we must not forget that sustaining elimination could be more difficult and countries certified as malaria-free should not let their guard down. They should safeguard progress by focusing on maintaining vector control and strengthening malaria surveillance, especially in ports, airports and their capitals.