Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on the international community to intensify the fight against malaria despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a result, we have tended to forget that pandemics such as malaria are the greatest killers today in the African continent than COVID-19 is,” Kenyatta, who is also the current chairman of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), said on Monday evening in a virtual address to the End Malaria Council (EMC).
According to a statement from the presidency released on Tuesday, Kenyatta said the pandemic had overshadowed all the efforts that had gone into fighting malaria.
The EMC is a group of global public sector and business leaders that sees malaria eradication as a critical health and development priority. It seeks to drive progress towards ending malaria by ensuring the eradication of the disease remains high on global and regional agenda with strong political, financial and technological commitment from leaders at all levels.
Kenyatta emphasized the need to focus on ALMA’s four-point agenda, top among them being enhancing digitalization and use of real-time data including sharing country malaria scorecards which can also be used to support the fight against the current and future pandemics.
“In fact, we did launch our own ALMA Scorecard Hub and this is part of our agenda during our two-year term. This real-time data gives us greater transparency, accountability, and also evidence-based decision-making,” the president said, adding that the scorecard hub has been used by countries to publish their scorecards, with 10 countries including Rwanda and Ghana already sharing their scorecards through the online platform.
He told the meeting that ALMA has engaged regional economic communities (RECs) at the heads of state and government level to address key challenges and provide solutions in the fight against malaria.
“And we are asking them to include and mainstream malaria into the regular agenda of the individual RECs, because you cannot combat this disease in one country and forget that through our porous borders the problem is never contained within one country,” the president said.
According to the latest World Malaria Report, released in November 2020, there were 229 million new malaria infections in 2019. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 409,000 in 2019.
The African region shouldered more than 90 percent of the overall disease burden, according to the World Health Organization. Enditem