Malaria: Uhuru urges global community not to lose sight

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday evening at State House, Nairobi when he participated in this year’s End Malaria Annual Council meeting convened virtually by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Also present is Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. Photo/PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta has appealed to the global community not to allow the fight against Covid-19 interfere with efforts to eradicate malaria, polio, HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and other diseases in Africa.

The President said success stories and lessons from the global Covid-19 response should be harnessed and applied in the battle against these diseases to hasten their eradication. 

“Even as we face current challenges (Covid-19), it shouldn’t be at the expense of pulling back on the progress that we have made in other areas such as malaria and polio,” the President cautioned. 

The Head of State spoke on Monday evening at State House, Nairobi, during this year’s End Malaria Annual Council meeting convened virtually by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Government resources 

President Kenyatta is a new member of the apex organ of the organisation whose mandate is to bring together private and public sector leaders to drive global advocacy and action against malaria.

The President, who is the current chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), reiterated that resource constraints brought about by Covid-19 risks rolling back progress made in the fight against malaria.

“Covid-19 has had a huge impact in terms of where we’ve needed to focus government resources and in some cases at the expense of ongoing programmes that have been having success,” President Kenyatta told the council that is chaired by American philanthropist Bill Gates. 

He said the fight against malaria on the African continent was witnessing less interest from developed nations and multilateral partners as the countries and agencies redirect scarce resources to the more pressing coronavirus pandemic

Going forward, the President, who was accompanied to the meeting by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, urged African governments to apply information sharing and pooling of resources as seen during the continental Covid-19 response, to the fight against malaria.

“By pulling together as a continent to fight the Covid-19 situation, we have found that we’re much better able to deal with the scenario through greater sharing of information but also of pooling resources... this is something that we’ve learnt from Covid-19 that we can translate into our malaria agenda,” he said.

The Head of State advocated for greater application of information technology in the fight against malaria, saying digitisation had greatly assisted the fight against Covid-19. 

On the role of the private sector in the war against malaria, the President said businesses hold the greatest potential to fill the resource gap occasioned by Covid-19.

The Head of State lobbied for greater involvement of the youth in the anti-malaria war, saying young people have the eagerness, stamina and innovativeness to sustain the fight.

“I believe they (the youth) can be  a great asset not only in terms of field outreach but also in terms of this being a way and a process of them to also earn a living,” President Kenyatta said. 

Greater participation 

Gates said the ongoing global push for a Covid-19 vaccine had presented an opportunity for accelerating the search for HIV/Aids and TB vaccines. 

The American philanthropist, who is also the co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, applauded Africa CDC ,saying its achievements in the fight against Covid-19 should be replicated in the anti-malaria war.

Nigerian billionaire businessman Aliko Dangote, who also spoke during the meeting, echoed Uhuru’s call for greater participation of the private sector in the fight against malaria in Africa.

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