WHO African Region: Ethiopia

WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan Delivered Keynote Address to the 13th Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board Meeting

Today, the 13th Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board Meeting opened at the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in the presence of Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Minister of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

In her keynote address, the WHO Director General expressed her optimism in the strengthen of international commitments, in the effectiveness of existing interventions and in the coherence of evidence based strategies to achieve the required reductions in morbidity and mortality from malaria as specified in the UN Millennium Development Goals. She said that malaria has gone beyond being a health issue. It is an economic issue as well. Hence, on many occasions, Presidents and Prime Ministers in Africa are seen launching high profile malaria campaigns.

Dr. Chan identified the following factors which contribute to successful results in countries:

  • Political commitment at the highest level of governments. She thanked the government of Ethiopia and countries in Africa for this commitment;
  • Any initiative that wants to reduce morbidity and mortality from malaria must set ambitious goals. It must aim to reach the poorest of the poor;
  • A disease as complex as malaria is best addressed by multi-pronged approach, based on sound science.

Dr Chan cited as an excellent example of multi-pronged approach, the effort of the Ethiopian government in making ACTs widely available to the poor in the rural areas, the distribution, through mass campaign, nearly 20 million long-lasting insecticides treated nets over the past two years and supporting the training of large number Health Extension Workers. She said that these are some example of strategies, backed by politicians and ministers of Health that are bringing down mortality.

The Director General concluded her remark by saying “The winds of change are in our favor. Opportunities and momentum are on our side. Funds are flowing. Political commitment is yielding results in countries. We know what works and are increasingly able to prove it. Roll Back Malaria needs to agree on a single plan for malaria control, and then operate in a way that upholds this plan. Each partner has core competencies and a unique contribution to make, and this contribution needs to be part of a coherent plan.

In his welcoming remark the Minister of Health of Ethiopia and chair of the RBM Partnership Board, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed his hope that the Board will find solutions to the current challenges and come up with strategies for eliminating malaria as a threat to the health of the communities in Africa.

The Board meeting is expected to endorse approaches to escalate malaria prevention, treatment and care and achieve high level coverage with malaria control over much of the African continent. It will also examine comprehensive proposals to bring down the price of malaria treatments and engage all partners in an ambitious global business plan to finance an intensified battle against the disease.