In a unified call to action, African Union Heads of State and Government, accompanied by global health leaders and development partners, have sounded the alarm on an imminent malaria emergency.
Their collective message highlights the critical need for immediate intervention to safeguard the African Union’s ambitious target of eliminating malaria in Africa by 2030 and the United Nations’ equally ambitious goal of ending malaria epidemics by the same year.
During a press briefing held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, these leaders painted a sobering picture of the world facing its most substantial malaria crisis in the past two decades.
They identified a constellation of factors contributing to this dire situation, including the impact of climate change, growing resistance that threatens the efficacy of insecticides, antimalarials, and rapid diagnostic tests, and the specter of inadequate funding exacerbated by the global financial crisis.
President Umaro Sissoco Embaló of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, who chairs the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, delivered a stark warning, stating, “We are at a pivotal juncture. Currently, the available resources fall woefully short of sustaining existing life-saving malaria programs, posing the gravest threat to malaria elimination in the last 20 years. Failure to act swiftly to address the immediate funding gap of $1.5 billion and mobilize essential resources will undoubtedly usher in malaria resurgences and epidemics.”
The leaders also presented examples demonstrating how the ongoing global financial crisis has led to a significant escalation in the costs associated with delivering essential malaria interventions. Countries now grapple with heightened levels of insecticide and drug resistance, necessitating the adoption of newer, albeit more expensive, tools and approaches to effectively combat these challenges.