South Africa is one of 14 African countries to have received recognition for its fight against malaria during the 2016 African Leaders Malaria Alliance (Alma) meeting on 30 January as part of the 26th African Union Summit in Ethiopia. The 2016 Alma Awards for Excellence were given to:
- Botswana, Cape Verde, Eritrea, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, and Swaziland for achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for malaria;
- Rwanda, Senegal and Liberia for Performance in Malaria Control between 2011 and 2015;
- Mali, Guinea and Comoros for being the Most Improved in Malaria Control between 2011 and 2015.
“These are impressive achievements,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “They are a result of your vision of a malaria-free world.” These stats from the Alma shows where Africa is gaining ground in the fight against malaria. The green indicates a country on track, yellow indicates progress but more effort required while red shows countries that are not on track in the fight against malaria. (Image: Alma)
South Africa’s progress
In South Africa, cases of malaria have decreased by 82%; and the malaria related death rate has dropped by 71% since the year 2000 to date. The decrease is attributed to a sound malaria vector control programme, in which the country has used dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or DDT odourless insecticide for indoor residual spraying, coupled with other World Health Organization recommended interventions. “We are honoured to receive this 2016 Alma Award, which recognises the efforts that our programme in South Africa has made, not only in the past decade, but also investments we have made to fight malaria since the 1940s,” said President Jacob Zuma, who received the award.
Since 2000, malaria mortality rates in Africa had fallen by 66% overall and 71% among children under the age of five, said the alliance. “The African Leaders Malaria Alliance is a model for what we can do when we commit ourselves to a collective goal,” noted Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“Despite the remarkable achievements, we should not lose sight that malaria remains a disease of poverty and a major public health concern, particularly in Africa,” said Hailemariam Dessalegn, Ethiopia’s prime minister and the current chair of Alma. “We must therefore continue to invest in malaria interventions in order to reduce malaria cases and deaths.” According to the organisation, there were 188 million case of malaria in Africa in 2015. “An African child still dies every two minutes from the disease,” it said.