22 October 2019
The roll-out of the pan-African movement “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” is well under way. Following the high-level political will shown through the unanimous endorsement of the campaign during the 2018 African Union Summit, several countries such Mozambique, Niger, Eswatini, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia have officially launched their national campaign strategy with support from the African Union Commission and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.
As one of the initial partners of the “Zero Palu! Je m’engage” campaign in Senegal, Speak Up Africa has received funding from the Comic Relief & GSK partnership in order to support the implementation of the national campaigns in Ghana and Sierra Leone. Over the past few months, Speak Up Africa delegations have been visiting the National Malaria Control Programs (NMCPs) of these two countries in order to finalize the 2019-2020 campaign strategy.
As the national experts in Malaria control and prevention, the NMCPs have been instrumental in offering insights into the contours of the issue in Ghana and Sierra Leone, including the main obstacles and opportunities in working towards the African Union’s goal of Malaria elimination by 2030. The key themes underlying these discussions included the need for sustainable resource mobilization, the effective use of existing resources as well as a broad-based, multi-sectoral prioritization of the malaria agenda. As Ghana and Sierra Leone prepare to mobilize fully, the truth of the central message of the campaign is clearer than ever: that all members of society have an important role to play in order to reach malaria elimination.
The campaign will strategically target key decision makers and influencers in the media, local and national government and the private sector, though as we firmly believe that the campaign must be adapted to the specific country priorities and context, the exact shape of the campaign in Ghana and Sierra Leone will be slightly different as a result.
In both countries, there will be variety of media engagement strategies, including launching media coalitions, creating partnerships with key media outlets and holding briefing sessions, organizing media opportunities for campaign champions and key stakeholders, and a series of media awards for exceptional journalism on malaria, which will all serve to raise the profile of the malaria agenda and amplify the impact of the campaign. Furthermore, in both countries we will engage national and local decision makers and influencers: in Ghana this will include field trips, workshops and presentations with parliamentarians and local government officials with a view to influencing those who create policy as well as allocate and track resources; in Sierra Leone, in addition to parliamentarians, we will also engage key council members and chiefdom stakeholders (e.g paramount chiefs, religious leaders, and Mayors). Lastly, private sector will also be engaged as part of a resource mobilization strategy: in Ghana, where there is already a foundation of private sector support through the PSMP project (Private Sector Malaria Prevention), the campaign will support the establishment of the Ghana Malaria Foundation as well as offering additional opportunities for companies to support malaria control and prevention; in Sierra Leone, where, as of yet, there has been little or no private sector engagement on this issue, the existing “Malaria Safe” framework, which has had substantial traction in Ghana and elsewhere, will be adopted for this initial engagement.
We are confident that through these activities and partnerships we will be able to foster the enabling environment necessary for a sustained and serious commitment from every sector of society towards the vision of a malaria free world – a vision that has recently been confirmed as attainable, though ambitious, by 26 leading malaria experts in a new report in the Lancet. This serves to bolster our conviction that while it is true that malaria remains a ubiquitous threat to public health and prosperity in Ghana, Sierra Leone and across Africa, the coming decade will be the decade that we finally see the back of this burden and we are able to proudly claim that zero malaria started with me.
James Wallen, Malaria Program Officer, Speak Up Africa