Botswana has received the 2016 African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) award in recognition of its attainment of more than 75% of the goals set for control and management of the disease in terms of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000.
The award was officially handed over to the Minister of Health Dorcas Makgatho by Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation minister Pelomoni Venson-Moitoi at a press conference held in the capital Gaborone. The local handover ceremony came nearly a week after a pre-announcement during the meeting of the coalition of African Heads of State working to eradicate the disease at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In her acceptance speech, Magkatho said Botswana would continue to work towards achieving 100% of the MDG goals so that the country can be free of malaria and another epidemic within the next five years. She said the country would expand its malaria control program with the employment of more health experts in the field of malaria control.
Further, Makgatho said the ministry would decentralise malaria control services to rural clinics and satellite outposts where treatment services would be provided alongside expanded public education programmes aimed at controlling the mosquito-borne disease.
Makgatho said the country had just been allocated a total grant of US$32.7 million by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to support the local fight against the triple scourge. The fight against malaria received a total of US$ 5.12 million while the combined fight against HIV/Aids and TB was allocated US$27m.
The funding will be used to eliminate malaria, mitigate and reduce the socio-economic impact of TB and prevent new HIV infections. According to the minister, Botswana remained on course to achieve its goal of complete eradication of TB and malaria by 2020 and control of HIV/AIDS by 2030.
In Addis Ababa, Botswana was recognized together with South Africa, Namibia, Cape Verde, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Swaziland and Eritrea for excellence and commitment which led to the achievement of the MDG targets for malaria control. According the World Health Organization (WHO), overall Sub-Saharan African malaria mortality rates fell by 66% among all age groups and by 71% among children under five in the 15 years since the MDG targets were set in 2000.
Africa’s annual malaria death rate had dropped from an estimated 764,000 in 2000 to at least 395,000 by 2015. At least 633 million new cases of malaria were prevented in Sub-Saharan Africa in the same period.