Windhoek - There is a need to re-dedicate and scale-up the response to malaria in the SADC region as the disease has negative implications on sustainable development, Namibian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Corporation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, has said.
Speaking during the Elimination 8 (E8) Diplomatic Networking Event last week, Nandi-Ndaitwah said investing in malaria was a positive step towards the region’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Like many other global health problems, the malaria burden impacts many aspects of sustainable development. Investing in health, particularly in malaria, contributes to the attainment of the SDGs. The economic gains of moving from high malaria burden to low burden are well demonstrated by economic, social and political indicators as well as cultural benefits,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
“We should do so fully aware that malaria is a development issue and our region will not realise its full economic potential until malaria is defeated. Malaria is preventable, treatable and certainly eradicable. The region has to reaffirm its political will.”
She said the region has a high political will to eliminate malaria and this has been seen by the signing of the Windhoek Declaration in 2018 on eliminating malaria in SADC by 2030.
“They committed themselves to sharing data and support domestic funding for malaria elimination. I am reminding ourselves of all these decisions that we do not lack the will to eliminate malaria in Africa. The only thing we have to do is to act but to act as one,” she said.
“Those in the field are reminding us as member states of the challenges faced in realising this noble goal. These challenges include limited domestic funding and human resource capacity or lack of the necessary skills required to lead this effort. Difficulties in sharing of data remain a huge bottleneck and the varying country situations pose a challenge, that is politically, economically, among others. To run the last mile, we must overcome these challenges, and with a strong political will, malaria can be eliminated. I therefore call on all of us and other countries to rededicate our efforts to eliminate malaria out of the E8 and the SADC region.”
She said as the E8 and SADC progress towards the goal of eliminating malaria in the region, the prerequisites for success were a sustainable domestic financing, multi-sectoral approach, cross-border collaboration, regulation, and human resource development and deployment.
Nandi-Ndaitwah acknowledged the role played by E8 partners in eliminating malaria in the region namely the United States of America, China, Turkey, the World Health Organisation, Global Fund, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, University of California in San Francisco and all SADC member states.
“Eliminating malaria requires a fundamentally different approach compared to just control. Where malaria is being controlled, a re-orientation towards eventual interruption of malaria transmission is recommended in order to create a malaria-free future. Whereas controlling malaria requires a more routine approach to scale up coverage of proven interventions, elimination calls for more complex, data-driven, and evidence driven strategies,” added Nandi-Ndaitwah.
The E8 Diplomatic Networking Event which was themed ‘Strengthening relations for malaria elimination in the SADC region’. It was attended by Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula, WHO Representative in Namibia, Charles Sagoe Moses, CEO of Global Institute for Disease Elimination in Abu Dhabi, Simon Bland, and SADC Elimination 8 Ambassador, Nchabi Kamwi, among other delegates.