Washington, D.C., October 22, 2020 – Coming together to discuss a shared commitment to end malaria, Ambassadors to the United States from Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, and Zambia spoke about their countries’ efforts and ambitions, even in the face of COVID-19, and the transformative impact that 15 years of U.S. investments and partnership with the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) have had in enabling them to make significant progress against the disease.
The ambassadors’ remarks were made at a high-level virtual program co-hosted by Malaria No More and the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) and moderated by Dylan Matthews of Vox. Dr. Ken Staley, the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, also spoke, highlighting the significant role that PMI has played – working in deep partnership with malaria-endemic countries and global partners – in driving down malaria cases by 27% and malaria deaths by 60% in PMI countries since 2006.
Click here to watch the recording and further below are quotes from the program participants.
The event, “15 Years of Fueling the Fight to End Malaria in Africa: A Conversation with African Leaders around the Transformative Impact of Partnership with the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative,” focused on how PMI investments and country leadership have contributed to progress in the fight against malaria and the multiplier impact that U.S. investments have beyond fighting malaria.
Established by President George W. Bush as a $30 million initiative to control malaria in three countries, thanks to sustained bipartisan support, PMI is now a $770 million program that protects over 570 million people at risk of malaria across 27 high burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Greater Mekong Subregion with the goal of elimination.
Over the past 15 years, PMI scaled up prevention and treatment efforts and pioneered new tools and approaches that contributed to building a malaria-free future. Their investments also strengthened healthcare systems by training health care workers and expanding lab capacity. This infrastructure has contributed to building resilient national health systems that have been critical to mitigating the impact of COVID-19. PMI’s success against malaria contributed to saving more than 7 million lives, preventing over 1 billion cases of malaria, and unlocking an estimated $2 trillion in economic benefits since 2000. This and its multiplier effect – in reducing maternal and child deaths, fighting diseases such as the current pandemic, improving economies,and building lasting partnerships with African countries that can contribute to their self-reliance – has made it one of the most effective U.S. investments in global health.
While significant progress has been made since 2000, malaria still killed just over 400,000 people in 2018. In April, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the alarm on the potential impact that COVID-19 could have if life-saving malaria prevention efforts were disrupted or postponed due to significant challenges posed by the pandemic. WHO and global partners urged malaria-endemic countries to act quickly and safely to save more lives and avoid a potential doubling of malaria deaths this year.
Since then, malaria-endemic countries and global partners, including PMI, have worked to ensure that 90% of life-saving malaria intervention campaigns scheduled for this year are on track across Africa, Asia and the Americas. These critical efforts helped protect millions from the disease and avoid the worst-case scenario of a severe increase in malaria cases and deaths.
Quotes from program speakers:
His Excellency Lazarus Ombai Amayo, Ambassador to the United States, Republic of Kenya, which has been a PMI partner country since 2006, said: His Excellency Lazarus Ombai Amayo, Ambassador to the United States, Republic of Kenya, which has been a PMI partner country since 2006, said: “Through this partnership with PMI we’ve been able to expand malaria prevention and treatment measures, addressing maternal and child death, and are working on development of the second generation of a malaria vaccine. This partnership has enabled us to build the capacity of health workers and researchers… [and is] mutually beneficial to both countries… [And] the malaria fight is instructive for how we can meet the challenges of COVID-19.” President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya currently serves at the chair of ALMA, a coalition of African Union Heads of State and Government working toward a malaria-free Africa by 2030.
Sharing his country’s experience of moving from controlling malaria towards eliminating malaria, His Excellency Lazarous Kapambwe, Ambassador to the United States, Republic of Zambia, said: “Since PMI began investing in Zambia in 2007, the country has seen a nearly 25% decline in mortality due to malaria and the incidence of malaria declining by 30%...Now we are a part of what is known as the Elimination 8, the countries from southern Africa that share a regional goal of eliminating malaria by 2030.”
Her Excellency Mathilde Mukantabana, Ambassador to the United States, Republic of Rwanda commented: “The way we prepared [for the pandemic] was supported by how we prepared in the past for Ebola...We took into consideration that malaria is a priority still in this time...We didn't stop addressing malaria when COVID came because it was part of the plan to keep people healthy.” With support from PMI investments, since 2006, Rwanda was able to expand its community health worker network, which is now also being used to help fight COVD-19.
The Honorable Mr. Mame Oumar Thiaw, deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of the Republic of Senegal to the United States, said: “Under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and the national malaria control program, collaboration with local communities, donors, international organizations, religious groups, and private sector partners… we have been able to achieve consistent improvement in malaria intervention in Senegal. We are very proud that PMI has been a proud partner of Senegal since 2007 helping to decrease child deaths. We could not have achieved that progress without PMI’s partnership.” Thanks to its long-standing partnership with PMI, Senegal increased its disease surveillance and health worker capacity. This was essential for diagnosing and treating patients early for malaria, freeing up hospital beds and capacity for treatment of other infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator Dr. Ken Staley of PMI said, “In 2006, malaria killed almost 1.2 million people worldwide. Now, 22 PMI partner countries in sub-Saharan Africa have seen significant reductions in all-cause mortality rates in children under age 5. Eight PMI partner countries are on the path to being malaria-free. These achievements in the fight against malaria have set the world on a path to end this disease within a generation. In large part because of progress against malaria, a child has a better chance of survival now than at any other point in history.”
ALMA’s Executive Secretary Joy Phumaphi reflected, “We see more empty hospital beds that would have otherwise been occupied by precious little patients with severe malaria who instead are now playing, learning and flourishing… The global effort to end malaria, which PMI is a major champion and actor of, has ensured that the predictions made by WHO at the start of the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic, that is a doubling in malaria deaths, has been largely averted.” A partner in the global malaria fight since 2009, ALMA’s collaboration with PMI helped promote access to malaria services through resource mobilization, and accountability and action at the highest levels of African government.
Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More, opened the program by noting: “Fifteen years [after PMI’s launch], thanks to sustained bipartisan support for U.S. investments, the global malaria fight has emerged as one of the greatest public health success stories of our time. And one of the keys to that success is the enduring partnership between US and African countries that we celebrate here today. While we’ve made tremendous progress fighting this disease, we can’t let up now. We must keep working together toward a world where no child dies of a mosquito bite, where malaria is truly no more.”
Watch the full recording of the program here.
For more information, contact Taylor Prochnow at +1 206-605-4090 or Taylor.Prochnow@MalariaNoMore.org.
About Malaria No More
Malaria No More envisions a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite. Launched at the 2006 White House Summit on Malaria, our work has contributed to historic progress toward this goal. Now, we’re mobilizing the political commitment, funding, and innovation required to achieve what would be one of the greatest humanitarian accomplishments – ending malaria within our generation. For more information, visit www.malarianomore.org.