25 April 2021, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – World Malaria Day 2021 comes at a time when
healthcare systems in Africa bear the anomalous weight of the coronavirus pandemic.
African Union (AU) Member States have maintained their focus in the fight against malaria
even as the pandemic continues to test the limits of health infrastructure at the country
level. I take the opportunity to recognise and appreciate all AU Member States for
ensuring that comprehensive approaches like education, prevention, diagnosis, and
treatment – that have been proven to have tangible results in the fight against malaria –
have been sustained during the pandemic.
Today, the African Union Commission (AUC) joins the world to celebrate the seven million
lives saved, and over one billion malaria cases averted through life-saving mosquito nets,
among other interventions. The Commission,as taken note of this years theme , “Zero
Malaria – Draw the Line Against Malaria,” with the fullest commitment that all must work
together to end malaria by 2030. As a continent, we celebrate with great honour and pride
the AU Member States that have been certified malaria-free. I encourage these Member
States to lead continental knowledge-sharing initiatives so that best elimination practices
are exchanged andscaled-up.
Africa is making headway in defeating malaria through strong political commitment,
increased funding, and innovations devised to improve malaria prevention and control.
Most of the achievements have been realized through the Zero Malaria Starts With Me
Campaign implemented by the Commission in partnership with the African Leaders
Malaria Alliance (ALMA) and Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership to End Malaria. To
date, nineteen(19) AU Member States have rolled out the Campaign, seven (7) of which
launched in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. While more Member States are
working towards launching the Campaign, the Commission welcomes the collaborative
effort to urge Africa leaders to step up and be a part of the zero-malaria movement.
The Zero Malaria Starts With Me Campaign is transforming the continent’s malaria
response and inspiring global action. This Campaign’s advancement and impact have
demonstrated AU Member States’ dedication to reach the targets set in the Africa Health
Strategy and the Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB, and. Eliminate Malaria in Africa
by 2030. The Campaign’s focus is to empower the youth’s involvement in the malaria
response. The leadership of youth in Africa is crucial as young people account for 75%
of the continent’s population. Youth are the driving force of the continent. I commend H.E
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, for launching the Digital Youth
Malaria Army initiative. With the support of ALMA, the work of the Army is shaped by
strategic guidance from the ALMA Youth Advisory Council, consisting of representatives
from all regions in Africa. Partners also have opportunities through which youth can be
empowered for leadership in the fight against malaria, including the RBM Digital Youth
Workstream and Draw the Line against Malaria Youth Champions. I encourage Africa’s
youth to join these initiatives to ensure their communities and peers’ voices are heard.
In conclusion, I emphasize on the critical role of multisectoral partnerships in achieving
significant strides towards the shared goal of malaria elimination. We need more
partnerships and resources to innovate and improve surveillance programs. As we
commemorate World Malaria Day 2021, I call on frontline health workers , partners, and
leaders worldwide and in Africa to share experiences and reflections on efforts and
opportunities to reach the target of zero malaria.
I reiterate that ending malaria’s scourge will have a long-term, transformative impact and
save millions of lives. The Commission will continue to support the AU Member States to
Draw the Line Against Malaria.