Senegal’s private sector gathered to end malaria

Press Release • 03 December 2021

Mr. Alphonse Ousmane Thiaw, Director of Cabinet of the Minister of Health and Social Action in Senegal, chaired, on Thursday, December 2, 2021, a roundtable discussion on the private sector’s avenues of contribution to malaria control and elimination, which was attended by around ten of Ecobank Senegal’s corporate clients.

This roundtable is organized as part of the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative, led by Ecobank and the non-profit organization Speak Up Africa, in collaboration with the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, which aims to stimulate private sector engagement in malaria control and elimination in Africa.

« We remain convinced that the private sector has a very important role to play in the fight against malaria. The private sector is not only a means of funding malaria programs, but also has expertise to share. We value initiatives such as this roundtable because they allow the public and private sectors to work together to tackle the country’s health problems, and in particular challenges related to malaria elimination in Senegal. The elimination of this preventable and curable disease will provide healthy living conditions for the people of our country as well as a favorable business environment, » said M.  Alphonse Ousmane Thiaw, Director of Cabinet of the Minister of Health and Social Action of Senegal.

Senegal has reported 373 deaths across the country in 2020, compared to 260 deaths in 2019, with 445,313 reported cases. This increase in mortality coincides with the arrival of COVID-19. This confirms the need to remain vigilant and to intensify our efforts towards malaria elimination by 2030 despite the pandemic. Malaria remains a threat to the Senegalese population and continues to negatively affect the most vulnerable. Moreover, the funding of malaria control interventions is principally comprised of contributions from multilateral and bilateral partners, therefore threatening the sustainability of the effort to eliminate this burden in Senegal.

Mindful of the need to act to end this disease, in partnership with Speak Up Africa, Ecobank Senegal decided to bring together corporate clients and partners to discuss strategic interventions that could be implemented as part of the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative, which aims to mobilize national resources, particularly from the private sector, for sustainable financing of malaria control and elimination.

« The recent pandemic has taught us the importance of having a more resilient health system in place. We, as actors in the private sphere, have an important role to play in financing health and in particular malaria, which continues to affect our communities and businesses. We have the capacity to mobilize the necessary resources to support the efforts of the government and communities. Let’s leverage them. » said M. Sahid Yallou, Managing Director of Ecobank Senegal.

Private sector engagement is an important pillar of the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign launched in 2014 by Speak Up Africa in partnership with the non-governmental organization PATH and the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP). The campaign has since become pan-African with the African Union making it one of its credos.

« We are honored to have the Ministry of Health and Social Action with us for this important meeting with the private sector. Their presence is not only a reflection of our government’s commitment to malaria control and elimination but also of the importance they attach to the private sector’s engagement in this fight.  We are delighted by the presence of these two key stakeholders, without whom it would be difficult to eliminate this scourge from our country, » added Ms Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa.

The workshop was an opportunity for the NMCP to present its 2021 – 2025 National Strategic Plan (NSP) and the strategies implemented to tackle malaria. The challenges impeding the fulfilment of the objectives were raised, in particular the financial challenges that the program is facing for the implementation of its activities. The workshop also highlighted the role that the private sector could play in the fight against malaria, the importance for this sector to take ownership of this cause and for all actors to aim for final elimination rather than simply. The companies present at the meeting unanimously signed the declaration of commitment and called on all other companies to join the fight.

The Executive Director of UNACOIS, M. Ousmane Sy Ndiaye, said : « Malaria places a heavy burden on our populations and on our economy. It is a disease that is easily preventable, especially through the support of the private sector.  It is imperative that we, the private sector, get involved and support the Zero Malaria Businesses Leadership Initiative. Senegal is on the right track, and I, Ousmane Sy Ndiaye, Executive Director of UNACOIS, call on the entire private sector to join the efforts to prevent and eliminate malaria.”

During the discussions with the companies, it was noted that the private sector has the means to act but needs to be sensitized and oriented. The companies present said they were all ready to support the program financially and materially in order to achieve the elimination of malaria. The following contributions were discussed:

  • Contribute to funding through the Zero Malaria Fund: companies will be able to dedicate a percentage of their revenues to the Zero Malaria Fund.
  • Involve companies from the mining industry operating in the most affected areas, Kolda, Kedougou, Tambacounda: because of their strong presence in these highly malaria-prone regions, the private mining sector is a significant partner and should be involved in the initiative. 
  • Provide logistical support to the program in order to make the most remote areas accessible: companies will support the NMCP during the next mass distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated net (LLIN) and will assist in the collection and reporting of data to the NMCP.

Conduct awareness campaigns throughout the country: companies can contribute thanks their proximity to communities and their expertise in developing adapted communications tools and messages.

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