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Lawmakers to push for malaria elimination

Some seventy-two (72) parliamentarians of Sierra Leone recently participated in the Zero Malaria Parliamentary Engagement Forum as part of the Zero Malaria Starts with Me / Malaria e Don Wan Dae Na Mi Han campaign, a Pan-African movement committed to eliminating malaria by 2030.

The forum is seeking to inspire a unified commitment from parliamentarians representing all parties and all parts of the country, behind the malaria elimination agenda. Furthermore, an action plan is being developed between parliamentarians and the National Malaria Control Programme to ensure that concrete action is being taken.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Hon. Moses Baimba Jorkie, stated that as the national representatives of the interests of all citizens, they are ready to lead the way in the fight against malaria with a renewed conviction and dedication to the long-term health and wellbeing of the country and its inhabitants. In demonstrating a cross-party consensus, parliamentarians have signed a declaration and a public statement will be released in due course.

As well as using their platforms and influence to amplify public messaging and support existing initiatives, the parliamentarians will be championing the increase of the health budget from 11% to 15% of government spending, in line with the Abuja Declaration, which is essential to strengthen the health system as a whole. Furthermore, they have also agreed to advocate for the doubling of financing for malaria, TB and HIV as well as the establishment of a high-level, multi-sectoral End Malaria Council/Fund to drive domestic resource mobilization.

Driving political will is essential to securing the resources and governmental prioritisation necessary to make progress against malaria – a disease that caused 1.78 million cases and 1,949 deaths in Sierra Leone in 2018.

Parliamentarians are the national policy makers, debate governmental priorities, vote on budgets and form committees to tackle specific social and economic issues. Reaching malaria elimination within a decade therefore necessitates full cross-party support, and this is why all parliamentarians were invited to the Zero Malaria Parliamentary Engagement Forum.

Director of Disease Prevention and Control, Dr. Samuel Smith said: “Since malaria is one of the oldest recorded diseases and has plagued the African continent for so long, it is often seen as a fact of life and the idea of elimination seems, to many people, impossible. However, we must only look at the progress made in the past decade to know that malaria is a disease that can be defeated: the number of malaria deaths was reduced by 77%, from 8188 in 2010 to 1949 in 2018. Just think what can be achieved with another 10 years of action and mobilisation!”

He added that the NMCP was deeply encouraged by parliamentarians showing such strong commitment to the malaria elimination agenda, and to taking concrete action so that Sierra Leone becomes a shining example of success, and one that will inspire other African nations.

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