On the agenda: tracking malaria elimination efforts in Southern Africa

Photo: PATH

Photo: PATH

By Andy Seale
Director of Advocacy and Communications, Vaccine Access and Delivery Program at PATH

There’s no mistaking that delegates from around the world are this week in Geneva to participate in the 67th World Health Assembly. Hotels have been fully booked for months and the city’s buses and trams are crowded with delegates buzzing with updates from the official sessions, numerous side events, and networking opportunities.

One of the first side events to take place this year was hosted by the Minister of Health and Social Services of the Republic of Namibia, Dr. Richard Kamwi, to mark the launch of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) E8 Malaria Elimination Scorecard. Dr. Kamwi chairs the SADC E8 Malaria Elimination Initiative, which covers eight countries from the SADC region united around a shared vision of a region that is free of malaria.

The launch attended by the initiative’s eight ministers of health marks a critical moment for elimination efforts in Southern Africa with the official adoption of the scorecard that has already been adopted elsewhere in Africa through the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA). In 2011, ALMA heads of state and governments agreed on the development of an accountability and transparency framework to track progress in malaria elimination, facilitate a rapid response to emerging issues and bottlenecks, and allow for the sharing of lessons learned. The resulting scorecard measures country progress toward elimination by using a traffic-light system: green for activities that have achieved targets or are on track for success, yellow for good progress that requires more effort, and red for activities that are not on track. Data included in the scorecard are collated from internationally recognized and published sources.

This exciting initiative has benefited from partnership and technical assistance from the Malaria Control and Elimination Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), one of PATH’s flagship programs. Dr. Kamwi highlighted MACEPA’s strong technical work and strategic support in his keynote speech at the launch event alongside the work of other partners including the World Health Organization and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.

For me, it was a great pleasure to have been asked to attend the launch on behalf of MACEPA as I started my international health career with the Roll Back Malaria Partnership back in 1999—and at that time the idea of organizing politically and programmatically around an elimination agenda in Southern Africa seemed to be a far-off dream.

More information about the scorecard initiative can be found here.

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