07 April 2021
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and malaria disproportionately affect the poorest populations and are a major obstacle to international economic and social development.
In 2019, more than 90% of the malaria burden is in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 200 million cases and 400,000 deaths in one year. A child dies from malaria every 2 minutes. In addition, more than 1.5 billion people worldwide are affected by NTDs, causing several million deaths and disabilities.
The Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs, hosted by the Rwandan government ahead of the June 2021 Commonwealth Heads of State Summit (CHOGM), offers a unique opportunity to accelerate pan-African and international action to eliminate malaria and NTDs.
Launched by a group of like-minded civil society organizations based in West and Central Africa, the “March to Kigali” campaign includes political engagement, private sector and youth engagement and civil society commitment to galvanize a movement ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of State Summit (CHOGM) in Kigali in June 2021.
The “March to Kigali » will build on existing partnerships and platforms of the « No to NTDs » and “Zero Malaria Starts with Me » campaigns and aims to encourage the commitments needed to achieve the elimination of these diseases by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is in our collective interest to ensure that our voices our heard ahead of this critical political moment in June. We are honoured to have so many passionate and committed partners and champions in so many countries across the African continent, and so I today call on all to join us on the “March to Kigali”, to declare “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” and “No to NTDs”, and demand that our representatives prioritise the ending of these epidemics in order to lay a foundation for a brighter future for all.”Yacine Djibo, Founder and Executive Director of Speak Up Africa
The campaign will engage English and French speaking African countries to ensure that the momentum generated by the CHOGM’s pre-campaign advocacy efforts is not limited to Commonwealth African countries, as all African countries are directly affected by these diseases.
Led by civil society organizations working in public health in many countries across the sub-region, the campaign activities will range from advocacy and communications capacity building workshops to country spotlights in order to raise awareness and inspire action. The series of spotlights begins in Sierra Leone and will continue through Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Niger and Cameroon before arriving in Rwanda in June.
“As president of the No to NTDs CSO coalition, I am very aware of the devastating impact that NTDs and malaria can have on communities. That is why we are pleased to launch the « March to Kigali » campaign alongside our partners. We are ready to lead the advocacy for increased investments to strengthen health systems so that we have a chance to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”Dame Ndiaye, Executive Director, National Youth Alliance for Health, Reproduction and Family Planning, and member of the campaign steering committee
The “March to Kigali” will increase public awareness and engagement on NTDs and malaria as well as generate public demand for increased funding and better management of these diseases. An online call-to-action that is open to the general public and all other stakeholders to sign will therefore be launched, calling for, for instance, increased domestic resources from public and private sectors, and will be part of participating in a fun new social media challenge to be launched on World Malaria Day (25th April). Furthermore, the campaign will entail a range of targeted advocacy engagements at the national level led by Civil Society Organizations.
“Multi-sectoral action is essential to achieve our goals. Civil society organizations must be at the forefront of demanding the strengthening of essential services for the control, prevention and treatment of NTDs and malaria. As an organization that understands and seeks to represent the needs and priorities of our communities, we are committed to working alongside government and the private sector to strive towards the elimination of these completely preventable and treatable diseases. That’s why we are marching to Kigali, will you join us ?”Christian Matins, Coordinator of the CSO Coalition for Universal Health Coverage in Benin, and member of the campaign steering committee