President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the global community to remain focused on the fight against malaria despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The President, who is also the current Chairman of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), said it was unfortunate that Covid-19 had overshadowed all the efforts that had gone into fighting malaria.
“As a result, we have tended to forget that pandemics such as malaria are the greatest killers today in the African continent than Covid is.
“Let us get our partners to understand that it is in the interest of everybody that we keep our eye on the ball. The fight against malaria, the fight against TB, and the fight against HIV/AIDs – these are all critical fights that will ensure that we are better placed not only to fight the current pandemics but also help us prepare against future pandemics,” the President said.
President Kenyatta spoke on Monday evening at State House, Nairobi in a virtual address to the End Malaria Council (EMC), a group of global public sector and business leaders that sees malaria eradication as a critical health and development priority.
EMC seeks to drive progress towards ending malaria by ensuring the eradication of the disease remains high on the global and regional agenda with strong political, financial, and technological commitment from leaders at all levels.
President Kenyatta emphasized the need to focus on ALMA’s four-point agenda, top among them being enhancing digitalization and use of real-time data including sharing country malaria scorecards which can also be used to support the fight against the current and future pandemics.
“In fact, we did launch our own ALMA Scorecard Hub and this is part of our agenda during our two-year term. This real-time data gives us greater transparency, accountability, and also evidence-based decision-making,” the President said.
He noted that the scorecard hub has been used by countries to publish their scorecards, with 10 countries including Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana already sharing their scorecards through the online platform.
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“…many others are documenting best practices not only to fight malaria but also to establish ground rules for fighting future pandemics as well. I would like to urge ownership of this kind of scorecards by individual countries,” President Kenyatta said.
The President informed the meeting that ALMA has engaged Regional Economic Communities (RECs) at the Heads of State and Government level to address key challenges and provide solutions in the fight against malaria.
“And we are asking them to include and mainstream malaria into the regular agenda of the individual RECs, because you cannot combat this disease in one country and forget that through our porous borders the problem is never contained within one country,” the President said.
He said ALMA has also created End Malaria Councils and Funds to boost high-level, multi-sectoral engagement and involve advocacy at all levels of governance as well as launched the ALMA ‘Youth Army’.
“The ALMA ‘Youth Army’ is what is going to be our best defense not only in the battle against malaria but it will also create a cadre that will help Africa fight future pandemics as well,” the President said.
In this regard, the President said Kenya had engaged youth through the ‘kazi mtaani’ program that has enabled them to clean their neighborhoods and helped in the reduction of water and vector-borne diseases, including malaria, in their communities.
The meeting attended by EMC global members including former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Mr. Bill Gates, Dangote Group CEO Mr. Aliko Dangote, and WHO Ambassador for Global Strategy and Health Financing Ray Chambers, acknowledged the progress of President Kenyatta’s ALMA agenda in the fight against malaria.
The EMC members agreed on the need to strengthen community health systems as part of scaling up malaria eradication efforts in Africa.
Head of Public Service Dr. Joseph Kinyua, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, and ALMA Senior Advisor Dr. Willis Akhwale among others also attended the virtual meeting.