Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is among several high-profile African leaders calling for urgent action to ensure that the decades of progress fighting malaria are not derailed by the COVID-19 crisis.
Recent studies from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that deaths from malaria could double in 2020 if access to life-saving malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services are disrupted. This is especially concerning as the rainy season approaches in some parts of Africa.
In light of this, the End Malaria Council has released a four-part plan calling on leaders to act quickly to protect progress, boost African purchasing power and local manufacturing of medical supplies, continue investments in building the health workforce, and harness technology to ensure resources are distributed efficiently.
Madam Sirleaf has significant experience in public health and malaria prevention and treatment. As well as overseeing Liberia’s response to the Ebola crisis from 2014-2016, she is the former Chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA). Currently, Madam Sirleaf is the World Health Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for the Health Workforce and a member of the End Malaria Council.
In a statement about the Council’s plan, Madam Sirleaf said:
“Prioritizing frontline health worker safety is a critical investment in the COVID-19 response that will provide short- and long-term benefits. Ensuring these health workers are equipped with the necessary protective equipment, diagnostics and data tools will protect health workers and empower them to interrupt the virus while maintaining life-saving services against existing diseases like malaria.”
Alongside Madam Sirleaf, signatories of the statement and plan by the End Malaria Council include Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya and Chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, Jakaya Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Graça Machel, founder of The Graça Machel Trust and the Foundation for Community Development.
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