By: H.E. Amb. Minata Samate Cessouma – Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, African Union ‎Commission

25 April 2023, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia –As Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development of the African Union (AU), I join the rest of the world to commemorate the 2023 World Malaria Day under the theme, “Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate, Implement”‎.

The AU Commission observes the day as an occasion to highlight the ‎need for continued investment and sustained political commitment to malaria ‎prevention and control. The global theme of the day is ‎an important call to action for multisectoral collaboration and impactful malaria ‎innovations adaptable on the continent. As the global malaria community unite to celebrate progress and reflect on the theme, I reiterate that optimum delivery of innovation and implementation requires ample investment in ‎‎malaria response.

The Heads of ‎State of the African Union, ‎in February 2019, endorsed the “Addis Ababa ‎Commitment towards ‎Shared Responsibility and Global ‎Solidarity for ‎Increased Health ‎Financing Declaration” ‎‎(AU Assembly ALM ‎Declaration). ‎ That Declaration recalls the ‎2001 Abuja Declaration ‎and reiterates a call for  ‎African-led additional domestic resource ‎investment into the ‎health sector.‎ The mandate rests on the ‎AU Member States, this World ‎Malaria Day, to recommit to increasing domestic ‎resources allocated for malaria ‎prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care, noting that the disease is treatable and curable. ‎‎

The impact of malaria in Africa is heaviest upon expectant women, under-five children and the youth. During humanitarian emergencies, malaria morbidity and mortality can contribute to the breakdown of health services and local case management, which can worsen and be a source of the emergency. Mass populations displaced during humanitarian emergencies are also at increased risk of severe malaria outbreaks. This burden undermines our collective social and economic development and is ‎ultimately a barrier to achieving the objectives of the AU Agenda 2063: The Africa We ‎Want, premising on transformation led by the continent’s population.

We must come together to deliver transformative and improved solutions tailored to end ‎malaria among those ‎who need them most.‎ ‎

The African Union Commission joins the malaria community to ‎‎advocate ‎for people-centred initiatives to achieve malaria elimination ‎targets in the AU Agenda 2063, Africa Health Strategy, ‎Catalytic ‎Framework to end ‎AIDS, TB, and Malaria by 2030, and 2030 Agenda for ‎Sustainable ‎Development ‎endorsed by the AU Member States. I applaud all the 27 AU Member States that have launched the Zero Malaria Starts with Me Campaign. I also applaud the ‎12 AU Member States that have launched and announced End Malaria Councils and ‎Funds. Several AU Member States ‎have also ‎launched commendable national malaria youth councils. Community engagement is crucial for expanding the malaria vaccine rollout launched in 2019 in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi. I encourage research institutions to venture into new technologies and innovations that accelerate vaccine availability and expand immunisation programs’ reach and impact. This World Malaria Day, I echo that empowering communities in planning and executing community-based interventions is ‎necessary to strengthen health security in Africa. ‎

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound and lasting impact on healthcare systems and how we live. We learnt valuable lessons during the response as a continent about how ‎we can better prepare for future health threats. The AU Commission’s Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social ‎Development is developing a continental Digital Health Strategy ‎for Africa to ‎guide Member States (MS) ‎as they transform how ‎digital health is provided to bridge healthcare delivery gaps. I encourage AU Member States to leverage this Strategy to strengthen malaria response. I also reiterate collaboration with ‎the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to align how we invest, innovate and implement‎ malaria elimination interventions with health systems strengthening priorities.

In conclusion, the African Union Commission celebrates the hard work of all stakeholders leading malaria programmes and research and progress across all intervention areas: prevention, diagnosis, treatment, elimination, and surveillance.

I assure renewed commitment of the African Union to work with the global malaria community to eliminate malaria in Africa by 2030.

I thank you.

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