[Column] Ochuko Keyamo: Engaging the private sector to eliminate malaria
Malaria has a devastating impact not only on the health and wellbeing of people across Africa and around the world, but also on economic growth and stability.
As a result the disease is increasingly presenting itself as both a responsibility and financial consideration for businesses concerned about their workers, consumers and communities where they operate and beyond. According to the 2018 World malaria report, the world is no longer on track to achieve two critical 2020 milestones set within WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030 (GTS): reducing malaria deaths and disease by at least 40% by 2020. The statistics are sobering – a disease that killed 435,000 people globally in 2017 and still kills a child every two minutes.
The problem is vast, and as progress stagnates, we stand the risk of losing the significant gains made over a decade; hence we must renew efforts to make fighting malaria a priority.
Private sector as activist
The private sector is a critical partner and plays an integral role in the drive to eliminate malaria. Companies have been successful in shaping malaria policies; impacting communities through workplace initiatives, product and service innovations, advocacy, research and investment. Four areas where the private sector can be especially influential are:
• Innovation: In partnership with academic researchers, companies are engines for medical innovation. Current needs present immediate opportunities for malaria-related innovations in diagnostics, drug and vaccines development, vector control and surveillance.
• Policy: The private sector can be an important partner in shaping comprehensive national malaria strategies in endemic countries to enhance, facilitate and sustain effective interventions.
• Implementation: Companies currently exercise leadership in education and prevention strategies such as bednet manufacturing/usage, indoor residual spraying; in treatment through testing and access to medications; and through awareness and prevention programs, thus protecting their workforce and surrounding communities from malaria.
• Financing: Besides providing resources in the three areas above, the private sector has the financial management acumen to build the community’s capacity and create opportunities for innovative financial partnerships e.g. mobilizing critical additional funding to invest in malaria prevention, treatment and control.
With its ambitious 2019 strategy, the Corporate Alliance on Malaria Africa (CAMA) will address some of the major issues impeding sub-Saharan Africa progress in the fight against malaria such as inadequate domestic funding and access to malaria commodities, to move the region towards malaria elimination. CAMA is using its network and various platforms to educate, inspire and catalyze partnerships that drive tangible results.
This year brings great opportunity for business to contribute to rapid acceleration of rate of progress in the global war against malaria. Success will require transparency and consistent commitment from all partners’ concerned to address systemic challenges to eliminate the scourge once and for all. With your continued support, we can achieve greater impact.