Rwanda launches Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign, reaffirming commitment to ending the disease

Press Release • 10 March 2020

Today, Rwanda joins the Zero Malaria Starts with Me movement, in a drive to accelerate malaria elimination across the African continent.

The Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign, launched in 2018 by H.E. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in his role as Chair of the African Union, seeks to build community ownership of malaria efforts and increase political commitment for malaria elimination.

As part of the campaign, all Rwandans will be urged to step up the fight against the disease, from political leaders to the private sector and local communities.

Rwanda is among a handful of countries globally that succeeded in driving down malaria cases in recent years. One key success factor is the increased use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, which went from 17% to 75% in just 10 years among pregnant women, contributing to a maternal mortality reduction of 72%. However, despite recent progress, Rwanda is still among the 15 countries with the highest burden of malaria worldwide.

Dr Ngamije Daniel, Rwandan Minister of Health, explains: “Currently in Rwanda, more than 57% of cases are treated by Community Health Workers, which shows how actively our people are able to participate in malaria elimination initiatives and which is leading to an over 60% reduction of mortality due to malaria (from 2016 to date). These community-led actions have significantly helped reduce malaria cases, and through Zero Malaria Starts with Me, we hope they can further be involved in improving our nation’s health.”

Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, Chief Executive Officer, RBM Partnership to End Malaria, said: “There is no better way to start the Decade of Action to achieve Sustainable Development Goals than by celebrating the distribution of the 2 billionth mosquito net worldwide and another country joining the pan-African Zero Malaria Starts with Me movement. Together, we can achieve zero malaria within a generation—a major and historic achievement that will unlock economic and social potential of our communities, countries and the entire continent.”

Ms. Joy Phumaphi, ALMA Executive Secretary said: “The only way we can have an assured and sustained response to eliminate malaria is through increased domestic investments. ALMA will continue to support the roll out and implementation of the “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” continent-wide campaign. The establishment of End Malaria Councils and Funds in countries to engage stakeholders and mobilise in-kind and financial resources to close budget gaps is part of the new continental health architecture to defeat the disease. We welcome the Government and people of the Republic of Rwanda in joining this African owned and led campaign and recognize that the country is a pace setter and is ably driving the domestic health financing agenda on the continent”.

The launch of Rwanda’s Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign also featured the using of drones for larviciding to reduce the adult population of mosquitoes and showcased other innovative vector control tools. Other key activities include a mass mosquito net distribution, of which some of them will be locally produced, and indoor residual spraying campaigns in malaria-endemic regions.

Hosted in Kigali, the launch of the national campaign was attended by the community of Gasabo District  and representatives of the Rwanda Government institutions, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), Malaria No More UK, the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), World Health Organization, SFH Rwanda, CHARIS among others .

The launch of Zero Malaria Starts with Me in Rwanda builds on ongoing collaboration between the Government of Rwanda, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and other global partners in the fight against malaria, including the first-ever Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical diseases to be held on 25 June 2020 in Kigali alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

About the RBM Partnership to End Malaria

The RBM Partnership to End Malaria is the largest global platform for coordinated action against malaria. Originally established as Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership in 1998, it mobilises for action and resources and forges consensus among partners. The Partnership is comprised of more than 500 partners, including malaria endemic countries, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, nongovernmental and community-based organisations, foundations, and research and academic institutions. 

About Zero Malaria Starts with Me Campaign

Started in Senegal in 2014, the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign was endorsed by African leaders in July 2018 at the 31st African Union Summit. The campaign is jointly coordinated by the African Union Commission and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.

The Pan-African Zero Malaria Starts with Me movement seeks to build community ownership of malaria efforts and increase political commitment for malaria elimination across the African continent by:

  1. Engaging political leaders at all levels;
  2. Mobilising resources and funding, including domestic resources and the private sector; and,
  3. Empowering communities to hold leaders accountable in the fight against malaria. 

To date, 14 countries have joined the movement and rolled out national Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaigns. These are: Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Ghana, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia

To find out more information about Zero Malaria Starts with Me and to access the toolkit, please visit https://zeromalaria.africa/.

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