Windhoek – Ten countries, including Namibia, have been awarded the 2016 African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Award for Excellence for achieving the Millennium Development Goals target for malaria. Other African countries to be commended Botswana, Cape Verde, Eritrea, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, and Swaziland for eliminating the disease.
In addition, Rwanda, Senegal and Liberia have been awarded for good performance in Malaria Control between 2011 and 2015. While, Mali, Guinea and Comoros were awarded for being the Most Improved in Malaria Control between 2011 and 2015.
During the gathering, African leaders reiterated their commitment to malaria elimination on the continent by 2030.
President Hage Geingob collected the award for Namibia during the ALMA’s annual meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 26, according an ALMA press statement issued to the media.
Founded in 2009, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance is a ground-breaking coalition of 49 African heads of state and government working across country and regional borders to achieve a malaria-free Africa by 2030.
With the aim to celebrate exemplary leadership in policy, impact and implementation in the fight against malaria, this year ALMA presented awards to 13 African countries that have shown commitment, innovation and progress in the malaria fight.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended the winners, saying: “These are impressive achievements. They are a result of your vision of a malaria-free world.”
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia, the current chairperson of ALMA pointed out that the success in these 13 countries and elsewhere across the continent demonstrates that strong leadership is the most powerful weapon against Malaria.
Despite the remarkable achievements, Dessalegn called for African countries not to lose sight that malaria remains a disease of poverty and a major public health concern particularly in Africa, calling for the governments and stakeholders to continue investing in malaria interventions in order to reduce malaria cases and deaths.
This was cemented by, Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of ALMA. Phumaphi said due to the fact that Malaria still kills an African child every two minutes and that millions of Africans are not receiving the lifesaving health care services and tools they need to prevent and treat malaria, more work is still need to be done in order to free the continent from Malaria.
While accepting the award for his country, South African President Jacob Zuma said despite the achievement, his country will not be complacent in tackling the disease.
“In this regard we have committed to eliminate the disease from within our borders. We are also working with our neighbouring countries to also fight the disease in our neighbourhood,” said the President.
Zuma reveals that Malaria cases have decreased in South Africa by 82% and the deaths have also decreased by 71%, since the year 2000, to date.
The decrease in malaria cases is attributed to a sound malaria vector control programme, where South Africa has used dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or DDT odourless insecticide for Indoor Residual Spraying, coupled with other World Health Organisation recommended interventions.