By Ochuko Keyamo-Onyige, Country Manager, GBCHealth CAMA
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) suffers by far the greatest malaria burden worldwide; malaria is so common in SSA that the average person sees it as an inevitable part of their existence, and the statistics are as stark as they come.
According to the 2018 World Malaria Report, the global response to malaria has stalled, and we’re at risk of losing some of the gains made in the last two decades. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), is worried about our ability to achieve two critical 2020 milestones of the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030; reducing malaria case incidence and death rates by at least 40% from 2015 levels. He clearly stated that “we are off course.”
The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 435,000 in 2017, and SSA accounted for 93% (404,550) of global malaria deaths. Of all countries burdened by malaria, Nigeria has the highest percentage, bearing 19% (82,650) of malaria deaths worldwide. Children under five years old are the most vulnerable, accounting for 61% (266,000) of the global malaria deaths. This is sad and unacceptable!
Malaria is also bad for business. Malaria is responsible for decreased productivity, employee absenteeism and increased healthcare spending. It’s not only businesses that lose; families lose and governments lose too.
Despite a leveling-off in progress since 2015, the global malaria response is in a much better place than it was at the start of the 21st century. Although Africa accounted for 93% of the global malaria deaths in 2017, we should also note that malaria interventions and investments resulted in 172,000 fewer malaria deaths globally, and 88% of these prevented cases were in Africa.
There are numerous challenges that we must confront on the road to elimination of malaria, including inadequate international and domestic funding, continued and/or increasing parasitic resistance to antimalarial drugs and mosquito resistance to insecticides.
Since 2006, GBCHealth’s Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA) has served as a platform to channel the collective force of the private sector in driving partnerships that are impacting malaria control and elimination in Africa. Overall its goal is to build country-level capacity for effective malaria control and eventual elimination, which it accomplishes by helping companies to establish and refine workplace policies and conditions, as well as through its programmatic outreach into communities, in collaboration with local, regional and national governments.
The assets of the private sector are a valuable resource in the fight against malaria. CAMA’s work focuses on advocacy for better efforts against malaria, sharing best practices through case studies, briefings, leadership forums, etc., and creating partnerships towards malaria control and elimination in Africa.
CAMA members are front-runners in the fight against malaria and represent a variety of industries such as oil and gas, banking, construction, beverages and more. Collectively, CAMA and its members are developing and scaling-up workplace and community initiatives, identifying needs and gaps in-country, and mobilizing business contributions to address these gaps as well as working with the National Malaria Control Programs and other key stakeholders. They have also helped to create evidence-based tools to enable companies to better manage and monitor workplace and community malaria programs.
CAMA and its members’ activities and commitments span the full spectrum of public health interventions: product development to address prevention and resistance, implementation of mosquito control measures (e.g. interior and exterior spraying, stagnant water control), access to information and treatment for employees and communities, collaboration on policy frameworks and making investments.
WHO calls for the adoption of a “high burden high impact” model towards the elimination of malaria, which emphasizes increased political will, funding (particularly domestic funding) and better targeting of available resources.
Building on the theme of this year’s World Malaria Day–“Zero Malaria Starts with Me”–CAMA members and leadership are calling on all stakeholders in the global health community to redouble their efforts, resources and commitment to saving millions of additional lives, and helping communities and economies to thrive, by ending malaria.
A forward thrust in malaria control and elimination is possible through evolved strategies, new tools, increased funding, and investment in a robust health system that delivers quality healthcare and sustainable partnerships across private and public sector organizations. Let us do this together!
The Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA) is a unique coalition of companies from various industries, all with business interests in Africa. A GBCHealth-led initiative, CAMA channels the collective force and voice of the private sector to drive impactful partnerships for malaria control and elimination in Africa from workplaces to region-wide initiatives. For more information on the activities of CAMA and membership inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.