Sierra Leone and Ghana declare ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’ this World Malaria Day

Press Release • 25 April 2019

Advocacy action tank Speak Up Africa partners with Comic Relief, GSK and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria to support roll-out of Zero Malaria campaign in two new countries

Dakar, 25 April 2019 – Ghana and Sierra Leone are marking World Malaria Day by announcing plans to roll out national Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaigns as part of their efforts to step up the fight against the disease.
Both countries will be supported by advocacy action tank Speak Up Africa, which will be partnering with Comic Relief, GSK and the RBM Partnership to end malaria to support the countries in the implementation of the campaign and helping protect more citizens from the deadly disease.

Today malaria impacts Africa more than anywhere else in the world with ten of the 11 highest malaria burdened-countries located on the continent. Ghana is the 7th highest malaria burdened country in the world, recording over 7 million cases in 2017 according to the last World Malaria Report. Sierra Leone recorded 3 million in the same year and cases in both countries are on the rise.

Both Ghana and Sierra Leone will be reigniting a national, society-wide movement towards malaria elimination, promoting private sector and community engagement strategies, tailored to meet the challenges each country faces.

Sierra Leone will increase engagement of key local leaders, including religious leaders across the country. The country’s national malaria control program will also promote community engagement through activities to raise awareness of malaria prevention tools, such as Long-Lasting Insecticide-treated bed nets, which account for 69% of cases prevented by malaria-prevention tools and supporting a mass distribution campaign of LLINs in 2020.

Ghana will launch new initiatives to engage parliamentarians through workshops and visits and ensure efficient use of local domestic funding. Showcasing how private sector investment in malaria control can improve cost effectiveness for companies will also be leveraged to engage private sector engagement.

Liz Warner, Comic Relief’s CEO says:
« Comic Relief is proud and excited to be supporting Zero Malaria Starts with Me. It is a bold ambition and will require massive commitment and dedication. Working with our African partners and with African leaders we support this hugely positive initiative. »

The initial Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign launched in Senegal in 2014, with the support of Speak Up Africa and PATH, successfully engaged key stakeholders and encouraged grassroots action on malaria. The African Union, in partnership with the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, launched ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’ across Africa in 2018 following the success in Senegal. Several countries including Zambia, Niger and Mozambique have implemented the campaign on a national level.

‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’ is also the official global theme for World Malaria Day 2019, designed to remind people across the world that they have the power and personal responsibility to take actions that will protect families and communities from malaria and the importance of holding governments to account.

Yacine Djibo, Founder and Executive Director, Speak Up Africa says:
“After launching the original Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign five years ago we are excited to see it being brought to global attention and look forward to working closely with leaders in Ghana and Sierra Leone to build the campaign in their countries. With the support of country leaders, policymakers, academics and local communities across the continent we can achieve zero malaria in our lifetime.”

In keeping with this theme, a new coalition of civil society organisations – Civil Society for Malaria Elimination (CS4ME) – launches today to empower communities and civil society to join together to advocate for more effective, sustainable and people-centred, malaria programmes.

Dr. Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria says: “This World Malaria Day, we are calling on countries, including both malaria affected and donors, to step up their investment in fighting the disease and encouraging communities and individuals to take ownership of the malaria fight. I am delighted that we will be working with the Ministries of Health in Ghana and Sierra Leone on the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign to engage all parts of society and make much needed progress in fighting the disease.”

This year’s World Malaria Day is crucial, taking place ahead of the Sixth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in October, which seeks commitments totalling at least US$14 billion. The Global Fund is the leading international source of global malaria funding, accounting for almost 60% of funds available to target the disease and 44% of all resources for malaria.

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