Africa is missing out on an opportunity to earn billions by not investing more in the eradication of malaria, this is what Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary at the African Leaders Malaria Alliance had to say on the back of the 27th Summit of the African Union in Kigali.
The Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, TB and eliminate malaria in Africa by 2030 was endorsed by African leaders during the summit, outlining methods to eliminate malaria incidence and mortality across the continent.
"Malaria is a huge problem, economies have actually assessed that if we were to eliminate malaria on the continent, we would save money and be able to earn up to 40 billion US dollars in addition, per year as a continent,”Phumaphi told CNBC Africa.
She adds: “By not investing in malaria this is the loss that we are suffering. Recently 17 Nobel laureates were convened by the Copenhagen consensus and they said that for every one dollar that we invest in malaria prevention and treatment, we actually get a 34 dollar benefit - it’s a very clever area to invest in by any standard."
The theme for this year's summit is women's rights and human rights and Phumaphi feels the theme is well aligned with the health of the continent’s populations. She says once you make the woman of a family healthy, she in turn translates that health to her whole family.
“She is able to produce more for the family, she is able to ensure the education of her family and the overall well-being of her family and is the key caregiver.”
Phumaphi says we already have a set of tools that can make this possible.
"We have, as it is, a critical arsenal of tools, whether they be tools in the area of prevention, in the area of early diagnosis and appropriate treatment or also research into new technologies that are far along the pipeline.”
In detail, this could be through vaccines or finding new ways of addressing resistance through insecticides or drugs.
“Because of all these interventions that currently exist and the ones that are about to come into the market, we are pretty convinced that if we use this full arsenal we can bring it under control.”
She reaffirms this by referring to the end of 2015 when the alliance found that incidents of malaria had fallen by 66 per cent and the morbidity among children below age five had reduced by 71 per cent.
"That is phenomenal for the whole continent and nobody thought that when we set the target of 75 per cent reduction in 2000, that we would actually have achieved this - people thought it was an impossible goal," said Phumaphi.
She is confident that if the continent were to apply itself more and invest in its own resources and not rely on aid from outside Africa then it would be in a better position to eliminate the scourge.
"We want governments to go beyond the 15 per cent that they committed to in Abuja. We have a critical mass of countries now that have committed 15 per cent but the AU commissioned a new scorecard for investment in health and what they are looking at is not just thebudget allocationin health, they are also looking at thepercentage of gross domestic productthat is invested in health and they are looking atper capita spending on health in the economy.”
She says those three indicators are the ones which should now guide Africa as to whether enough investment is actually being put into health.