23 October 2020
On the 21st – 23rd of October, 72 parliamentarians of Sierra Leone participated in the Zero Malaria Parliamentary Engagement Forum as part of the Zero Malaria Starts with Me / Malaria e Don Wan Dae Na Mi Han campaign, a Pan-African movement committed to eliminating malaria by 2030.
Driving political will is essential to securing the resources and governmental prioritisation necessary to make progress against malaria – a disease that caused 1.78 million cases and 1,949 deaths in Sierra Leone in 2018.
Parliamentarians are the national policy makers, debate governmental priorities, vote on budgets and form committees to tackle specific social and economic issues. Reaching malaria elimination within a decade therefore necessitates full cross-party support, and this is why all parliamentarians were invited to the Zero Malaria Parliamentary Engagement Forum.
Dr. Samuel Smith, Director of Disease Prevention and Control, said “Since malaria is one of the oldest recorded diseases and has plagued the African continent for so long, it is often seen as a fact of life and the idea of elimination seems, to many people, impossible. However, we must only look at the progress made in the past decade to know that malaria is a disease that can be defeated: the number of malaria deaths was reduced by 77%, from 8188 in 2010 to 1949 in 2018. Just think what can be achieved with another 10 years of action and mobilisation!”. He added “The National Malaria Control Programme is deeply encouraged by our parliamentarians showing such strong commitment to the malaria elimination agenda, and to taking concrete action so that Sierra Leone becomes a shining example of success, and one that will inspire other African nations.”
The Zero Malaria Parliamentary Engagement Forum, therefore, is seeking to inspire a unified commitment from parliamentarians representing all parties and all parts of the country, behind the malaria elimination agenda. Furthermore, an action plan is being developed between parliamentarians and the National Malaria Control Programme to ensure that concrete action is being taken.
Honourable Moses Baimba Jorkie, Chairman of the Parliamentary Health Committee, said “As the national representatives of the interests of all citizens of Sierra Leone, parliamentarians must lead the way in the fight against malaria with a renewed conviction and dedication to the long-term health and wellbeing of the country and its inhabitants. In demonstrating a cross-party consensus, parliamentarians have signed a declaration and a public statement will be released in due course.”
As well as using their platforms and influence to amplify public messaging and support existing initiatives, the parliamentarians will be championing the increase of the health budget from 11% to 15% of government spending, in line with the Abuja Declaration, which is essential to strengthen the health system as a whole. Furthermore, they have agreed to advocate for the doubling of financing for malaria, TB and HIV as well as the establishment of a high-level, multi-sectoral End Malaria Council/Fund to drive domestic resource mobilization. If these 3 actions are taken, Sierra Leone will be well positioned on the road to malaria elimination.
To learn more about the Zero Malaria Starts with Me movement, please visit www.zeromalaria.africa