Launching the World Malaria Day 2017, the Sierra Leone Malaria Indicator Survey 2016 Report and the Sierra Leone Malaria Business Plan 2016 -2018, the Deputy Health and Sanitation Minister 1, Madam Madina Rahman said malaria continues to threaten more than half of the world’s population and presents an alarming threat to global development.
She informed her audience that as of 2016, an estimated 3.2 billion people, almost half of the world’s population in 97 countries and territories including Sierra Leone are at risk of being infected with malaria.
Madam Rahman disclosed that since 2000, malaria has cost Sub-Sahara Africa US$ 300 million each year for case management alone, adding that malaria is estimated to cost endemic countries up to 1.3 percent. She added that malaria can account for up to 40 percent of public health spending in the most endemic countries, adding that malaria and the costs of treatment trap families in a cycle of illness, suffering and poverty.
She told the gathering that over the past couple of years, Sierra Leone has achieve a remarkable success in malaria control initiatives, with prevalence rate dropping from 68 percent in 1978 to 40 percent in 2016 according to the Sierra Leone Malaria Indicator Survey conducted in 2016, adding that reported deaths due to malaria in children below five years in the communities, health facilities including hospitals is decreasing.
The Deputy Minister stated that this year’s theme: “End Malaria For Good” is a call of desperation for more support and investment in the concerted fight against the disease that has plagued the world in general and the African continent with devastating consequences.
She urged all Sierra Leoneans to use the opportunity in the upcoming free bed net distribution to crab a net, use it properly and do not sell it or use it to go fishing. “Remember, treatment for malaria is free in all government health facilities”, opined Madam Rahman.
Speaking on behalf of the UN Family, WHO Health Advisor, Alexander Chimbaru said World Malaria Day is to highlight malaria and its devastating impact on families, communities and development.
He said malaria is a global and regional priority which continues to kill over 400, 000 people around the world each year.
Mr. Chimbaru stated that the theme of this year stresses the need to accelerate and sustain efforts to defeat malaria, adding that countries have committed to end the malaria epidemic by 2030 as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. He stated that the African region has made significant progress in the fight against malaria, adding that the 2016 World Malaria Report shows that between 2010-2015, the estimated new cases of malaria in the region had dropped by 23 percent and deaths from malaria decrease by 31 percent.
He said to speed up progress towards the global and regional targets, WHO is calling on malaria affected countries and their development partners to boost investments in malaria prevention to propel countries along the path to elimination.
The Chairman, Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) for the Global Fund in Sierra Leone, Rev. Alimamy Papso Kargbo disclosed that Global Fund has approved US$ 91 million to fight malaria, TB and HIV and to improve on the Health Systems from January 2018 to December 2021.
He said CCM can see great achievements in the fight against malaria in Sierra Leone but they need more coordination, sensitization and partnership, stating that they can end malaria if they continue with the same spirit of transparency, accountability and true partnership couple with political will.
Head of Programmes, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Heather Dolphin reminded all the CRS has been part of the development and relief efforts of Sierra Leone since 1963 in the areas of Agriculture and Food Security, Education, Health and Nutrition, Microfinance, Housing and response to emergency situations including the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak.
She said in 2008, CRS became a sub-recipient to the Global Fund Round 7 malaria grant and became the first health NGO to provide malaria services to an entire district.
Heather Dolphin maintained that fighting malaria is one of the most effective strategies to fight poverty and promote growth and social development, adding that the fight against malaria has escalated in 2000 with increase investment in the area resulting to saving over 4.2 million deaths.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer 1, Dr. Sarian Kamara said government recognizes the fact that malaria is a leading Public Health problem with the entire population at risk of being affected by the disease.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer 1, Dr. Sarian Kamara
She said the launch of the World Malaria Day, the Sierra Leone Malaria Indicator Report 2017 and the Sierra Leone Malaria Business Plan 2016 -2018 will provide a platform to pool efforts to achieve the common goal.
Other highlights include statements from the Deputy Major of Freetown City Council, Madam Hannah Jaia, the Managing Director, Total Sierra Leone, Rose Nkada, presentation on the current status of malaria control in Sierra Leone by the Programme Manager, National Malaria control Programme, Dr. Samuel Juana Smith, and theatre performance formed high point of the ceremony.