As the World Malaria Day is marked globally, President of Dangote Group and United Nations’ Malaria Ambassador for Nigeria, Aliko Dangote has called for joint actions by all stakeholders globally if the collective goal of the disease elimination by 2030 is to be achieved.
Dangote in his World Malaria Day statement titled “With Urgent Investment, Innovation and Implementation, Zero Malaria Spread is Possible” urged that all stakeholders must work together to decimate malaria, which he said had brought untold human suffering with the economic toll of the disease on global productivity.
According to him, urgent investment, innovation and implementation by such stakeholders would help curtail malaria spread wherever the disease is found around the world.
He said, “…More than ever, we must collaborate to ensure that no child or person dies of malaria or loses another day to this debilitating illness again. We must also drive further progress toward malaria elimination in Nigeria and Africa at large by focusing on three key areas to ensure that malaria elimination remains high on Nigeria’s public health and development agenda; advocate at all levels to ensure sufficient funding to sustain the progress made so far, as we jointly seek to end malaria for good and encourage private sector leaders to implement malaria prevention and treatment programmes in their companies, as we do across our businesses in the Dangote Group.”
Dangote disclosed that since 2000, global partnerships and investments in the fight against malaria have yielded positive results by preventing some 2 billion malaria cases, saving 11.7 million lives and putting eradication within reach. He, however lamented that 96% of malaria deaths globally were found in 29 countries, with Nigeria sadly among the four countries which accounted for over half of all malaria deaths globally in 2021. He said this year’s World Malaria Day (WMD) has presented an opportunity to galvanise global efforts towards advocacy and sustained political will and investment that will be aimed at ending the scourge of the disease.
In his statement, Dangote expressed his readiness to lead the way, pledging that his Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) will further strengthen its engagements with the various key stakeholders in “Nigeria and globally to support the efforts to address malaria in our workplaces, communities, and especially high burden areas to attain our collective goal of malaria elimination by 2030”.
The philanthropist noted out that billions of dollars were pledged by donors at the historic Global Fund Replenishment meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in 2022 to boost the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria. He however expressed regret that an unprecedented shortfall of more than 50% in global malaria funding is now holding countries back from maintaining life-saving malaria programmes, despite the historic pledge.
Consequently, the Malaria Ambassador said the funding gaps have been contributing to declining progress in the countries with the highest burden of malaria. “Countries will not reap the rewards of these investments without further commitment to scale up and roll out these innovations where they are needed most. For Africa to move forward, he said the Continent has to get rid of malaria once and for all. Now, according to him, is the time to take decisive action to deliver on our goal of zero malaria, spur overall development and achieve the 2030 targets”, he added.
Dangote urged that the theme of this year’s World Malaria Day: “Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate, implement” highlighted the need for urgent action and further investments to ensure existing investments deliver maximum impact in the fight to end malaria.
“As a United Nations (UN) Malaria Ambassador for Nigeria, I would like to add my voice to the global call on governments and partners around the world to: Invest more in malaria programmes to bridge critical funding gaps and accelerate progress towards the total elimination of malaria; Innovate further to deliver improved solutions to end malaria that are tailored to those who need them most and Implement national strategies to accelerate progress against this age-old disease, by demonstrating leadership, adopting innovative and sustainable approaches, and scaling up national malaria programmes to deliver lifesaving tools to those at highest risk.”
Dangote then acknowledged the positive efforts of the Nigerian National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) as the second national drug regulator to approve the use of the R21 vaccine, saying the fight against the malaria scourge has been buoyed by the introduction of the new malaria vaccine -R21/Matrix-M, which was developed by the University of Oxford and will be manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
“As we look forward to its rollout soon. All efforts must be made to sustain the adequate sourcing and application of this innovative vaccine in the fight against malaria; akin to the noble efforts made to ensure the eradication of polio in Nigeria and Africa”, he concluded.