The Civil Society for Malaria Elimination (CS4ME), a global platform of civil society organisations, has called on decision-makers and leaders in Africa to advance equity and prioritise local civil society in the implementation of malaria interventions on the Continent.
They said countries should move from a purely medical approach to malaria control to a multi-sectoral approach with a community focus that took into account important factors such as the socio-economic, cultural and gender-related norms, contexts, and realities of people in communities affected by malaria.
In a message ahead of this year’s World Malaria Day, which falls on Monday, April 25, the CS4ME called for the identification of in-country vulnerable populations and involvement in specific interventions for those populations.
It mentioned populations like refugees, internally displaced people, orphans, people living in rural areas and those in conflict zones, pregnant women and children under-five, among others that needed critical attention.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) 2021 Annual Report highlights the successful distribution of bed nets, door to door, by many of the endemic countries.
“However, achieving the Global Malaria Strategy’s goal of a 90 per cent reduction in malaria incidence and mortality by 2030 worldwide is still a long way to go, as we continue to witness vulnerable populations who do not have access to quality malaria services,” the CS4ME said.
“In communities where malaria is endemic, we see challenges such as limited access to quality and affordable medication, lack of bed nets for some populations, limited resources of civil society organisations to reach the most vulnerable populations and limited diagnosis of cases.”
Also, there was a growing problem of antimalarial and vector resistance, which needed to be addressed, it said, adding that there was the need to implement differentiated programmes to address barriers to accessing quality malaria services and care by the most vulnerable populations.
The need to address gender inequalities in malaria control programmes and policies was also critical, it said.
The CS4ME said recent evidence suggested that women’s ability to access malaria prevention and treatment was frequently limited by their low socioeconomic standing within their households and communities.
There was, therefore, the need to recognise and work with local community expertise to achieve malaria objectives as well as meaningfully involve local CSOs in the implementation of programmes to ensure better community engagement and sustainability of malaria control investments.
It also called for urgent investment to accelerate research and development and for children and communities to have access to a vaccine with at least 80 per cent efficacy that is affordable and in sufficient quantity for all children at risk.
The organisation called for the need to ensure fair remuneration for community health workers, many of whom were women who worked hard to ensure communities had access to health centres and commit funds to the fight against malaria, TB and HIV.
The need to increase national health budgets in endemic countries in line with the 15 per cent promise made by countries in the Abuja Declaration in 2001 and increase the benefits of local medical staff, hospitals and health centres that were front line fighters was also emphasised.
The CS4ME is a global platform of civil society organizations committed to achieving malaria elimination.
Its mission is to make malaria control programmes and interventions more effective, sustainable, equitable, innovative, civil society-inclusive, community-centred, human rights-and gender-based, and adequately funded.