By President Armando Guebuza
As chair of ALMA Heads of State and Government, we commend the Chair of the African Union, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the President of Nigeria and the Chair of the African Union Commission for holding this Special Abuja +12 Summit at such an opportune time. Over the last decade since the first Abuja summit in 2000, we have registered dramatic increases in access to HIV, TB and Malaria control interventions. Malaria cases have fallen by more than 75% in 8 ALMA countries. Over this same time period, Malaria mortality rates have fallen by approximately one quarter, globally, and by more than a third in the WHO African Region.
As African heads of States and Government, we have closely monitored progress over the past 12 years. Over the past three years, using the ALMA scorecard for accountability and action, we have tracked policy compliance, financing in-country as well as implementation of recommended interventions and their impact on malaria. We acknowledge rapid gains in all these areas, and the excellent support from development partners that has been invaluable in our collective battle against the disease and its toll on our growth and development. We are concerned about the current reduction in funding and the resultant slow-down in scaling up of effective interventions, portending possible reversal of fragile gains in the fight against this silent killer disease. It is critical that we act decisively now to prevent malaria resurgence and deaths across the African continent.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria; a key funder of Malaria programmes in Africa, is currently seeking replenishment. ALMA and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership estimate the funding gap to achieve the 2015 malaria control targets as US$3.6 billion. It is critically important that we in the African Union, use ALMA and the rest of our friends in the development fraternity, to work together to mobilise these resources. Our continent bears the burden of 90% of all Malaria deaths worldwide – the vast majority being in children younger than five years of age. These children and their families must be protected, to release the level of learning and earning potential that will deliver the high economic levels our economies need.
Twelve years ago African heads of state and government pledged to increase government funding for health. Many of us still have to deliver on that commitment. Today, we must seek not only to increase public sector budget allocations to health, but also invite our expanding vibrant private sector to co-fund health with us, together with our external development partners; through the different traditional and innovative financing mechanisms. At the same time, let us ensure that we use existing and new resources effectively and efficiently to enable us to reach our goal of not only controlling but eliminating Malaria from our continent. Getting more health for the money is critical for sustainability and holds us accountable for results.
It is imperative that we finish this fight together. Even as we recommit our own resources, and implement innovative financing mechanisms; we call upon our global friends to replenish the coffers of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the biggest funder for the African Union’s ALMA member states in the fight against these three diseases.
Africa’s time is now, and our people can no longer afford to wait for health, well-being and sustainable development.
His Excellency President Armando Guebuza is the President of the Republic of Mozambique, Chair, African Leaders Malaria Alliance, (ALMA), Chair, Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Chair, Community of Portuguese Language Countries and Vice –Chair, AIDS Watch Africa (AWA).