Accelerated action is needed
The new report shows significant progress with nearly one-third of malaria-endemic Commonwealth countries on track to halving cases and the mortality rate from the disease by the end of 2019.
Despite country-level progress as a whole, the Commonwealth is currently not on track to halve malaria by 2023. The report calls on countries to accelerate action in the coming years to reach the historic target in the face of severe disruptions in malaria services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Commonwealth Secretary-General The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC said: “Although COVID-19 has seized the world’s attention and resources, it is equally important for us to maintain focus on our pre-pandemic commitments and also sustain gains in malaria and other health conditions. Allowing ourselves to be distracted would result in irreparable damage to major health gains and human security.”
Commonwealth Health ministers welcome tracker and report
Last month, the tracker and report were presented at the annual meeting of Commonwealth health ministers. Speaking after the meeting, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, The Hon Dr Daniel Ngamige said: “It is clear from discussions at the health ministers meeting that we must get back on track to meet the commitment to halve malaria by 2023 and accelerate progress towards elimination in line with our global and regional commitments will be vital.”
Investment in defeating malaria will not only save 217,000 lives in the Commonwealth every year, he added, but will also have an add-on effect on strengthening overall health systems that are well equipped to tackle outbreaks and protect all citizens.
Dr Ngamige continued: “Rwanda is committed to lead by example in reducing the Commonwealth’s malaria burden. To achieve this, we need a constant dialogue between states and partners on how we can learn from each other on defeating malaria.”
Commenting on the tracker, the Chair of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health (CACH), Dr Daisy Mendez of Belize said: “The Commonwealth tracker shows how creative, digital solutions can make complex information easily accessible.
“I am proud, as Chair of the CACH, that we can support member countries and Commonwealth partners with this new tool, and hope that it galvanises our collective resolve to defeat malaria together.”
The Commonwealth Malaria Tracker allows member governments and the public to monitor progress against targets to beat malaria in graphs and maps.