Home NewsNational Rwanda’s Efforts To Curb Malaria Lauded At Continental Meet Seeking To Eradicate The Disease

Rwanda’s Efforts To Curb Malaria Lauded At Continental Meet Seeking To Eradicate The Disease

by Daniel Sabiiti
1:09 am

Professor Rose Leke, Co-Chair of MIM Society (MIMSOC), commended Rwanda’s efforts to curb malaria. Photos/George Salomo/KT.

The 8th Pan-African Malaria Conference has opened in Kigali bringing together global health experts to amplify messages on malaria control efforts with Rwanda getting recognized for its exemplary efforts in the ongoing global fight against malaria.

The conference, officially opened this Sunday, is organised by Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Society, in collaboration with the Rwanda Ministry of Health and the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) and wil run from April 21-27, 2024.

This pivotal gathering will bring together over 2,000 global health experts, researchers, policy makers, innovators and 70 speakers from Africa and across the globe under the theme: “Grassroots Mobilization to End Malaria: Invest, Innovate & Integrate”.

The conference will in the following days provide a platform for collaboration and exchange of perspectives on community-driven efforts, cutting-edge research, challenges, and progress in malaria control across Africa.

Participants will engage in discussions, exhibitions, and collaborative sessions to advance the collective understanding and response to this global health challenge.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, officially opened the conference.

This biannual conference, which started in 1997, comes to Kigali city for the first time following the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizing Rwanda’s progress in its World Malaria Report 2023, placing the country among the top five African nations on track to achieve the Global Technical Strategy (GTS) target for 2025.

Previous events held in major cities such as Dakar (1997), Durban (1999), Dar-es-Salaam (2002), Yaounde (2005), Nairobi (2009), returning to Durban in 2013 and Dakar in 2018 before finally coming to Kigali this year 2024.

Professor Rose Leke, Co-Chair of MIM Society (MIMSOC) in her remarks said that Rwanda has come a long way to deserve hosting the conference from which other countries will learn best practices in the fight against malaria, prevention and treatment.

“Rwanda a land of a thousand hills they say have done so much in the fight against malaria and they are ready to just teach us how to go ahead in other countries where we have high burden, high impact- how we can move on and get to the level where they (Rwandans) are,” Professor Leke said.

The Yaounde declaration (March 2024) on accelerating malaria mortality reduction committed that “no one shall die of malaria”, however the WHO Africa region reports show an alarming stalling of progress on the continent which accounts for 95% of malaria deaths globally.

Rwanda on the other hand has made a significant efforts in reducing malaria deaths by 92% especially through the contribution of community health workers (CHWs) interventions (diagnosis and treatment) at the village level.

Rwanda has witnessed a drop in malaria incidents (per 1,000 persons per year) from 321 cases to 47 and malaria-related deaths reduced from 264 cases to 51 cases between the years 2018 to 2023.

The country now plans to put an end to malaria incidents and deaths by 2030, a goal that will be partly achieved by banking on the CHWs but also on behavioral change campaigns in best practices, and increasing access to preventives such as bed mosquito nets, and repellents for high risk persons-boarding school students, night shift employees- secuirty and medical officers among others.

Leke said this meeting is unique in a new found dynamism from the past and also a pivotal moment for the Society and beyond to renew commitments toward the fight against malaria and for grassroots leaders to gather, share, and learn from each other, thus strengthening the global fight against malaria.

“It serves as a platform for those at the forefront of the battle against malaria to amplify their impact through investment, innovation, and integration,” Leke said.

Prof. Leke (middle) lauded Rwanda for leading efforts to eradicate the malaria scourge.

Leke added that the World Malaria Day 2024 will be a key event within the meeting, aligning it with the broader global efforts to eradicate malaria.

Professor Claude Muvunyi, RBC Director General said that Rwanda’s remarkable history in the fight against malaria is characterized by its proactive adoption of innovative strategies deeply rooted in local initiatives.

“As we gather together for this conference, we are honored to share our experiences and play a pivotal role in the collective effort to combat malaria across the African continent and beyond,” said Muvunyi.

Conference sessions will focus on critical areas of malaria research and control, aiming to amplify the numerous efforts underway in the fight against malaria while also providing an opportunity to foster global solutions and encourage international cooperation in malaria control.

Dr. Charles Adekunle, the CEO of the Role Back Malaria (RBM) Parternship to End Malaria said that to make significant progress, the community in the fight against malaria needs to reflect on what is working, not working but especially leadership.

Prof. Claude Mambo Muvunyi, Director General, RBC, speaks at the opening ceremony.

Adekunle said that to end malaria, it starts with a political commitment and leadership- not only from the government alone but leadership from the state,community, and leadership from individuals.

“If we have the tools and do not use them, that does not show leadership. I think leadership is one and the foremost things that I think we need to do and continue to get right,” Adekunle urged.

The MIM society will witness the election of rotatory Presidency with organisation’s members expected to cast their votes but also open up new opportunities for partners to push the visibility of malaria as a global scourge that needs to be addressed through a multi-faceted approach.

Dr. Philip Welkhoff, the Director Malaria program at the Gates Foundation recognized Rwanda’s remarkable leadership when it come to health and revealed that the foundation is more than willing to fund and support more malaria prevention programs on the continent.

Dr. Philip Welkhoff.

“The work that is happening here (in Rwanda), the innovations, the transformation that is happening is an example and an inspiration and a teaching for all of us,” Welkhoff said asking the convening to learn from the best practices.

The conference also took off a moment of silence to recognize efforts of some deceased founders of the MIM society, such as Professor Ogobara Doumbo and Dr. Peter Deris- who contributed in the fight against Malaria at the organisation that is now fully registered as a non-profit with a legal status in Belgium and a secretariat in Cameroon.

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