Governments commit to fight malaria

Countries in the sub Saharan region have committed to eliminate and expand malaria control in all hard-to-reach migrant and mobile communities in Africa.

Ministers from Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as deputy ministers from South Africa, Mozambique and senior government officials from Swaziland have agreed to a declaration adopted at a high level meeting organized by the International Organization of Migrants, to step up measures to fight malaria in the continent.

In a statement issued by IOM Friday, the organisation has welcomed the decision of ministers of Health from malaria-endemic countries to adopt the Victoria Falls Declaration, that commits  African countries to fight the malaria scourge

IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing said in the statement that by adopting ‘ The Victoria Falls Declaration’, the health ministers recognized that malaria continues to be an obstacle to economic progress, especially to the poorest of the poor around the world.

Swing said this was the first high level meeting to discuss the issue of malaria in the context of migration and human mobility.

“We live in an era of unprecedented human mobility. Malaria is preventable and treatable, but the reality is that malaria remains a fatal disease that neither knows nor respects borders.

As the world prepares for the post 2015 development agenda, it is imperative that migration and human mobility are included in the post 2015 health outcomes if we are to sustain our current achievements,” said Swing.

Swing said that African governments recognized that migrants still face barriers to access malaria treatment at different stages of the migration process and that if the status quo remains, gains in malaria control and elimination at national level will be unsustainable.

In addition, the ministers acknowledged that lack of data and poor health systems pose a challenge to malaria control in the region.

The meeting participants he said, affirmed that there is need for strengthening operational research that will provide data/information for evidence-based planning and decision-making. The ministers also agreed to collaborate and strengthen existing cross border initiatives to combat malaria.

The Victoria Falls Declaration includes a ten-point action plan to put in place measures to sustain the good work on malaria control and elimination until all targets are met.

The plan includes a commitment in the form of a statement by health leaders to address malaria in the context of migration and human mobility.

The leaders committed to address the impact of migration and human mobility on malaria control and its elimination, and to jointly address the challenges in providing adequate and inclusive health services to cross-border, mobile and migrant populations.

According to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) at least 25 million out of a population of 38 million Kenyans are at risk of malaria, while malaria is also estimated to cause 20 percent of all deaths in children under five.

Kenya is making progress towards malaria related MDGs and Abuja targets, with routine data from Health Management Information System and the weekly reports from integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) showing a gradual decrease in malaria cases in the country.