Accra, April 28, GNA – The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) has called on governments to increase investments and innovations to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) target of at least 90 per cent reduction in malaria case incidence.

The target also includes achieving a 90 per cent reduction in mortality rates and elimination of malaria in 35 countries by 2030.

Dr. Charity Binka, the Executive Director, AMMREN, who led a team of Journalists with AMMREN on a sensitisation tour to the Kintampo Health Research Centre, said the commemoration of this year’s World Malaria Day was another opportunity for the global community to adopt innovative approaches to end malaria.

Speaking on the theme of the commemoration, “Advance Equity. Build Resilience. End Malaria,” she said it was a reminder for the world to join forces to speed up the pace of progress to kick out malaria from Africa and the rest of the world.

“AMMREN notes that with just eight years left, the target appears impossible, but is doable,” she said.

Dr. Binka said though COVID-19 had shifted focus of the health system, it was necessary for governments to keep an eye on the malaria elimination agenda.

The sudden outbreak of other diseases with public health importance, she said, had the potential of diverting needed funds and attention away from existing diseases such as malaria, a situation which had the potential of eroding the gains made over the years in malaria control.

“The last few years has witnessed sudden pockets of diseases with public health importance, such as the Ebola and the Marburg virus diseases. With such trends of emerging disease outbreaks of other important infectious diseases, it is important that old diseases such as malaria is not left to cause havoc among vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women.,” Dr. Binka stated.

Figures from the RBM partnership to end malaria showed that malaria accounted for one in 12 global deaths in children under five, with the WHO African Region accounting for 96 per cent of global malaria deaths and 95 per cent of cases, she said.

In 2020, there were 627,000 malaria deaths globally, a 12 per cent increase over the 2019’s 558,000.

The Executive Director reiterated the advocacy of the RBM, which called for communication of the urgency of the situation and the urgent need for action and targeted scale up of existing and new tools, such as the RTS,S vaccine, data-led strategies and investment in transformative tools.

She said the global body had said malaria fight was at a precarious juncture with the global malaria burden much higher than previously estimated, adding that half of the world’s population was still at risk of the disease.

Dr. Binka, therefore, called for a sustained action by all stakeholders to end malaria such as the promotion of preventive and curative tools that were available such as the distribution of long-lasting insecticide nets, indoor residual spraying, larval source management, malaria vaccine, intermittent preventive treatment, seasonal malaria chemoprevention and case management.

Considering the crucial role the media played on strategic advocacy on malaria, she admonished them to tell the malaria story and hold governments accountable to the people.

“The media must also shift focus on excessive news on politics and pay more attention to development issues such as malaria prevention,” she advised.

AMMREN is a network of African Journalists working together with scientists and researchers to end malaria.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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