Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 January 2012
The Nobel Prize laureate – Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was today named chair of the African effort to end malaria deaths in the continent. She assumed the chair of the ‘African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA)’ from President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania.
President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique was elected Deputy Chair of ALMA. ALMA is an alliance of 41 African heads of state and government working to end malaria-related deaths on the continent.
President Sirleaf inherits a malaria campaign that has made significant progress, yet faces real challenges in terms of funding.
According to the World Health Organization, there has been a 33% decrease in malaria deaths in Africa over the last decade. Despite this progress, the current global funding crisis – as evidenced by the postponement of the Global Fund Round 11 – threatens momentum.
ALMA estimates that there is a gap of USD $3.3 billion in funding needed to achieve and sustain universal coverage of essential malaria interventions, including artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) to the end of 2015.
“The malaria campaign is emerging as a standout success in the effort to improve the health and welfare of mothers and children, but we cannot lose focus now,” said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “There is a moral and economic imperative to fill the malaria funding gap.”
ALMA members agreed to intensify efforts to close financing gaps and made key recommendations and commitments including: World Bank IDA allocations to protect health gains and prevent the resurgence of malaria; deepen Africa’s commitment to transparency through the ALMA Scorecard for Accountability and Action, an innovative tool that tracks progress across key health indicators (view the Scorecard at Alma2015.org); increase African financing for health moving toward the Abuja target of allocating 15% of public sector budgets to health; pursue innovative financing approaches to expand the resource pool for health.
Seven ALMA member countries –Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Tanzania – received special recognition for removing all taxes and tariffs on malaria-related commodities, banning dangerous monotherapy treatments, or on making significant progress on malaria control.
The awards assessment is done by an independent committee of experts.
The ALMA meeting, which took place today, featured a tribute to President Kikwete, the founding Chairperson of ALMA. “We have come a long way in the fight against malaria,” said President Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania.
“Many challenges lie ahead, but working with partners we will continue our progress toward creating an Africa where no one dies of a mosquito bite.”
For more information on the work of ALMA, go to:
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