Jan 16, 2009, 6:21 AM
African leaders will assemble in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 30 January for another African Union Summit, whose main event will be the presentation of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) 2016 Awards for Excellence to about 13 countries in Africa that have done well in reducing malaria prevalence among their populations.
The gains registered on malaria reduction over the years have kindled the feelings that a malaria-free Africa is in sight.
This perception by many including the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) has been reinforced by the recent pledge of huge cash by the Bill Gates Foundation and the British government to combat malaria in Africa.
According to ALMA, Africa has experienced “unprecedented progress” in the malaria fight in the past 15 years.
Since the year 2000, malaria mortality rates on the continent have fallen by 66% among all age groups and by 71% among children under 5.
ALMA also says that an estimated 663 million cases of malaria have been averted in sub-Saharan Africa since 2001 due to scale up of malaria interventions.
This is laudable achievement that needs to be maintained and continually developed upon, since malaria is a high killer disease in Africa.
An icing on the cake has also been made possible with the new Britain-Bill Gates Foundation donation to the tune of US$4 billion to reduce malaria by 2040 to get rid of the disease.
This would go a long way in boosting the health economy of African countries, as 600 children are said to die of malaria before they are 5 years old.
One of the nagging problems of Africa is embezzlement of public resources by state authorities and public figures.
The money, it was reported, is meant to be used also for research and development (R&D) of new drugs and vaccines against malaria.
R&D is the source or pool of knowledge and invention by man and society, so it must be fully embraced by African government if the continent should make headway in the current development trend of the world.
Although it has been reported that malaria deaths had gone down by more than half since 2000, it is really crucial to get new drugs and vaccines to continue to fight malaria, to which the British government and the Bill Gates Foundation have thrown their weight by deciding to pump in the US$4 billion .
It is believed that African governments would make best use of the funds, considering their efforts and seriousness in trying to bring the disease to an end, as can be seen in the spirit of ALMA, which has been awarding African governments that have done well in reducing malaria prevalence in their countries.
The Gambia last year won the ALMA Awards for Excellence.
This year’s Awards, which recognize 13 countries in three categories, will be presented at the African Union as part of the programme for the Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
With the renewed efforts by African leaders to combat malaria in their countries coupled with the British government-Bill Gates Foundation donation, it seems a malaria-free Africa is in sight.
“There are more people dying of malaria than any specific cancer.”