The African Union (AU) has urged governments and people on the continent to remain committed to ending malaria in Africa, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The AU made the appeal in a statement on Monday as the 55-member pan-African bloc joins the world to celebrate the World Malaria Day.
It said progress is tangible and visible in communities as more countries draw closer to elimination of malaria.
Three AU members have been declared malaria-free.
“This success stands to show that elimination of malaria in Africa is attainable,” the statement said.
However, the COVID-19 outbreak is threatening to hamper efforts and stunt progress in fighting malaria.
According to a new modelling analysis released by the World Health Organization, severe disruptions to access to antimalarial medicines and prevention-based campaigns could lead to doubling in number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year compared to 2018.
The AU Commission called for unwavering commitment and perseverance of the people and leaders of member states through this unprecedented time.
It urged leaders to not only prioritize funding and programs that will save more lives, but to also step up as champions for the fight against killer diseases such as malaria.
Appointed to be chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) earlier in 2020, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced four priorities for his two-year term, with the aim to eliminate malaria from the continent by 2030.
The priorities include digitization and real-time data sharing, engagement with regional economic blocs and the youth.
“We know that achieving these four priority areas will accelerate progress towards a malaria-free Africa,” AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Amira El-Fadil said.