Malaria media coalition launch in Sierra Leone

Press Release • 06 February 2020

New journalist network will enhance the pan-African movement to eliminate malaria

Today, with support from the National Malaria Control Program and Speak Up Africa, a new media coalition in Sierra Leone has been launched as part of the pan-African Zero Malaria Starts with Me movement to eliminate malaria by 2030.

The Malaria Media Coalition seeks to engage journalists in Sierra Leone by:

  • Energising journalists to report on malaria and take an active role in the Zero Malaria Starts with Me movement;
  • Providing support and sharing resources to aid reporting on malaria;
  • Creating a collaborative platform to drive engagement on malaria.

Originally launched across Senegal in 2014 by the National Malaria Control Program, supported by PATH and Speak Up Africa, Zero Malaria Starts with Me sets out to ignite a society-wide movement towards malaria elimination. To achieve this, the campaign aims to boost political will and promote private sector and community engagement strategies that are tailored to meet the unique challenges each country faces.

The Zero Malaria Starts with Me movement has been rolled-out across Africa, co-led by the African Union Commission and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. To date, 12 countries have launched national Zero Malaria campaigns: Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Ghana, Niger, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone announced the roll out of its Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign in April on World Malaria Day 2019. Led by the National Malaria Control Program and supported by Speak Up Africa, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the African Union, and with funding from Comic Relief & GSK, Sierra Leone is leveraging the movement to strengthen support from local and national political, religious and traditional leaders, as well as driving private sector support and community engagement across the country.

Although the campaign is continent-wide, in each of the countries the campaign is adapted to the local context. In Sierra Leone, the name of the campaign is translated into Krio as “Malaria E Don Wan Dae Na Mi Han”.

The World Health Organisation recently released the World Malaria Report 2019. Despite pockets of progress, an estimated 228 million global cases of malaria and 405,000 deaths from this deadly, yet preventable, disease were recorded in 2018. Of these, Sierra Leone recorded more than 1.7 million estimated cases of the disease last year, and over 1.95 thousand deaths.

The new media coalition will amplify the reach and the impact of the campaign by supporting and engaging journalists to step up and play their part in the fight against malaria. Alongside the media coalition, the campaign is also launching a Zero Malaria Starts with Me media award to recognise publicly and celebrate exceptional journalism on this urgent public health issue.

« Since the turn of the century, we have made great progress in the fight against malaria. The vision of a malaria-free Sierra Leone is now in sight, and the media coalition launched here today is an important step in our journey. The Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign is gaining pace in Sierra Leone, and we hope that more countries join the movement to help improve health and prosperity for their citizens. » Dr. Samuel Smith, Director of Disease Control and Prevention, Sierra Leone

« We know that media reporters are crucial in the fight against malaria, as they have the power to hold leaders accountable through their reporting of key issues like malaria. By launching this media coalition here today, we will increase the quality and quantity of malaria media coverage to drive increased action against this disease. » James Wallen, Program Officer at Speak Up Africa

« I am delighted to join the Malaria Media Coalition here in Sierra Leone. It is integral that journalists are informed and collaborate with structures such as the National Malaria Control Program and their partners. With new knowledge and up-to-date information about malaria and the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign, as well as a platform to work with and support other journalists, the members of this coalition feel empowered and excited to produce journalism that makes a real impact in the fight against the mosquito’s deadly bite. » Swaliho Vandi, National Coordinator of the Network of Health Reporters in Sierra Leone

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