A cross-border partnership in Zambia and Zimbabwe: A step toward elimination on World Malaria Day

As southern African countries make strides in reducing malaria transmission, national governments, development partners, and communities must continue to work together to win the malaria elimination battle. Thus, last Thursday Zambia commemorated World Malaria Day by launching the Zambia-Zimbabwe Cross Border Malaria Initiative at Mukuni Park in Livingstone. The initiative, supported by the Global Fund, calls for the two countries to mobilize resources to move toward pre-elimination and eventually elimination of malaria in the two countries’ border communities.

Zambia-Zimbabwe Cross-Border Initiative“We must all join hands and work together. I would like to reaffirm government commitment to Malaria elimination,” said Zambia Minister of Health Dr. Joseph Kasonde, who served as co-officiator of the World Malaria Day commemoration with Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr. Douglas Mombeshora.

The day started with a site visit to Nsongwe village about 12 km from Livingstone Civic Centre, where the Zambian and Zimbabwean ministers and delegates visited two households and donated and put up long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, while health workers demonstrated and explained how indoor residual spraying is done in an effort to prevent malaria in homes.

The team then drove to Mukuni Park for a day filled with entertainment from local drama groups and local recording artist Mabel, who performed a song carrying a strong message on attaining elimination of malaria.

Speeches were given by the Minister of Health, his Zimbabwean counterpart, and representatives from the Global Fund, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), WHO, and Health Alliance International.

Dr. Mombeshora reiterated Zimbabwe’s support of the “Invest in the Future, Defeat Malaria” theme and said that, although the Zimbabwean and Zambian governments have separately made progress towards reducing malaria cases and deaths, the malaria burden in the bordering areas remains high. “The Zambia-Zimbabwe cross border initiative comes with a lot of excitement as it will accelerate transition from malaria control to malaria elimination along the Zambezi Valley. As a country, we therefore affirm our support to the implementation of the Zam-Zim cross-border collaboration and continue to mobilize resources.”

A representative from the Global Fund said there was a need for continued investment by donors and that the Global Fund is interested in exploring the approach using existing country grants to support cross-border initiatives. He also urged partners such as the PATH’s Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), country coordinating mechanisms, the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ), UNDP, and UNICEF to continue providing support for a successful initiative.

A WHO representative suggested that partnering with communities is also critical to success in malaria control. Community action is needed for increased awareness about the disease, promotion of positive behaviours, and acceptance of malaria control interventions. Community case management using rapid diagnostic tests is improving treatment and surveillance through confirmed case reporting.

Zambia’s national World Malaria Day event was held in Livingstone and was attended by over 2,000 people from all walks of life with substantial representation from Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health, civil society, and media personnel. Additional representatives from the National Malaria Control Centre, nongovernmental organizations, media, and other individuals were present.  Bilateral institutions such UNDP, WHO, the Global Fund, and USAID were among the prominent supporters of the successful event.

For a recap of World Malaria Day activities in Washington, DC, click here.

For a recap of World Malaria Day activities in Seattle, click here.

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