22 February 2021
In 2019, Africa accounted for 95% of the total number of malaria cases in the world, i.e., 215 million cases of malaria and 94% of the 409,000 deaths due to this disease. Children under five years of age are the group most vulnerable to malaria. The same year, they accounted for 67% of global malaria deaths, or 272,000.
In Benin, in 2019, 2,515,038 cases of malaria were recorded resulting in 3,234 deaths. The incidence of malaria varies by region, ranging from 13% in the Littoral region to 64% in Zou and peaking at 97% in the Atacora region. Children aged 1 to 4 living in rural areas are the most affected by the disease. In order to strengthen the national commitment to fight against malaria, in November 2020, Benin launched the « Zero Malaria Starts with Me » campaign and the « Zero Malaria! Business Leadership Initiative » in collaboration with the Ecobank Group and not-for-profit organization Speak Up Africa, based in Senegal.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) are at the forefront of social change and development in African communities. They represent diverse and vulnerable populations and play an important role as intermediaries between communities and national leaders. They work with governments on development issues and have been campaigning for several years to increase access to basic social services for all.
To meet the challenges of the fight against malaria at the community level, the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) of Benin, in partnership with Speak Up Africa, organized a national workshop to engage civil society organizations on February 23-24, 2021 in Cotonou. Through this workshop, the NMCP and Speak Up Africa wished to lay the foundations of a national coalition composed of civil society organizations, capable of driving change and initiating within the communities of the country, activities to fight malaria in a sustainable way via awareness and prevention interventions.
« The fight against malaria requires a multisectoral approach through innovative strategies involving all development actors in a spirit of consultation and common vision. Indeed, civil society plays a fundamental role in health campaigns by creating the political and social space necessary for collaborations based on the essential values of health as a fundamental human right »declared Sourakatou Salifou, National Director of Public Health of Benin.
The two-day workshop allowed participants to review Benin’s regional commitments to accelerate the elimination of malaria, as well as the implementation strategies, achievements, challenges and prospects for a better involvement of CSOs. On the other hand, this workshop highlighted the role that CSOs must play in the fight to eliminate malaria. Finally, leveraged for change were also explained/illustrated so that all participants could understand the importance of CSO involvement in the national landscape.
« Civil society has a huge role to play in the fight against malaria. Indeed, it can amplify awareness-raising efforts, facilitate access to malaria treatment services for remote populations and contribute to efforts to mobilize domestic resources for this fight, »concluded Christian Martins, Coordinator of the CSO coalition in Benin for universal health coverage.
The workshop ended with the signing of the « Zero Malaria Starts with Me » Commitment Declaration by the 19 civil society organizations who wished to reaffirm their commitment and determination to put an end to malaria.
Based in Dakar, Senegal, Speak Up Africa is a non-profit strategic communication and advocacy organization dedicated to catalyzing leadership, enabling policy change and raising awareness of sustainable development in Africa, particularly on issues related to sanitation, immunization, malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
On April 25, 2014, Senegal’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), in collaboration with the NGOs PATH and Speak Up Africa, will launch the « Zero Malaria! Starts with Me » campaign. This national movement for malaria elimination in Senegal is part of an inclusive advocacy strategy to increase awareness, prioritization and national commitment to achieve malaria elimination and is based on three pillars :
In July 2018, inspired by the success of the campaign in Senegal, the African Union Commission and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria are launching a continent-wide « Zero Malaria! Starts with Me » movement, subsequently adopted by 55 African Heads of State and Government. To date, 15 African countries have launched this movement at the national level, which aims to revive grassroots movements – led by individuals, families, communities, religious leaders, business leaders, political leaders, and other members of society – to take responsibility in the fight to eliminate malaria.