Since the year 2000, global commitment and effort as well as huge investment in malaria control have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives, reducing malaria incidence and mortality rates in Africa by 31% and 49% respectively. But malaria still kills. In 2012 more than 200 million cases were reported and an estimated 627,000 deaths occurred the same year. Most of these cases are never tested or registered, and the situation is worsened by the emerging drug and insecticide resistance. More funding and efforts are urgently required to reverse this situation. Investing in the future now is critical to sustaining the gains of the last decade and accelerating progress in the fight against malaria.
As the world celebrates the World Malaria Day, Amref Health Africa renews its commitment to lasting health change in African communities. Our new name, which better reflects the scope of our work and our mandate, also underlines our commitment to working side by side with communities to combat major diseases, including malaria. It is notable that Amref Health Africa has since its inception 57 years ago prioritised malaria prevention and control programming at community level because we are convinced that investing in malaria is critical to improving the quality of life of present and future generations.
Amref Health Africa strengthens community systems for effective malaria response with better access to prevention measures, prompt diagnostics and treatment. In this regard, the organisation has implemented numerous successful and sustainable community-based malaria programmes in Africa. The most recent one is the Community Case Management Programme, implemented by Amref Health Africa in Kenya since 2012 as the principal recipient of the Round 10 Global Fund grant for civil society organisations. More than 3,600 community health workers in malaria-endemic regions have been trained and equipped to be the first point of contact to health care services, providing prompt diagnostics using rapid tests and adequate care to patients close to their homes. So far about 40,000 confirmed malaria cases have been treated with appropriate drugs by the community volunteers.
Implemented together with the Government of Kenya and development partners in line with the National Malaria Strategy, the programme has resulted in significant gains in malaria control that need to be scaled up and consolidated to ensure that they are sustainable. It is therefore encouraging that the Global Fund, the Government of Kenya, and Amref Health Africa recently signed grant agreements worth US$80 million to support Kenya’s continuing fight against malaria in the second phase of the programme. Main interventions under this phase include maintenance of universal coverage through widespread use of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and access to prompt diagnostic services and quality-assured treatment at community and public health facility levels. This is supported by focused advocacy, communication and social mobilisation. The investment aims to scale up community case management in a total population of 3,175,416, which will definitely reduce the burden of malaria and improve the health and lives of the target communities.
Amref Health Africa calls on governments, donors, the private sector and partners to reinforce and renew their commitment to investing in malaria control and elimination, and to build strong partnerships to scale up interventions and strengthen community systems for sustainable malaria responses in Africa.