VOICES is hosting a 5-day â€œInternational Conference of Malaria Advocatesâ€ in Bamako, the capital of Mali. The overall objectives of the meeting include:
- Strengthen coordination among malaria advocates particularly information-sharing, planning, and priority setting
- Highlight achievements and challenges in achieving SUFI and malaria advocacy
- Advocate to President Amadou Toumani Toure for more visible political support for malaria control.
According to Panapress as reported in Afrique en ligne, â€œMalaria represents 33 per cent of the complaints in the health centres in Mali and children below five account for 34.4 per cent of the cases.â€ The conference will build on such important malaria statistics to hone the advocacy skills of participants.
Mali is an appropriate host country for this effort as it is a recipient of malaria support from both the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB (GFATM) and Malaria and the US Presidentâ€™s Malaria Initiative (PMI). PMI selected its focal countries based on existence of other donor support in order to provide synergies that will hasten malaria control. Advocacy in Mali should help forward this agenda.
Early assessment of the malaria grant by GFATM found that, â€œThe overall program performance in meeting the overall expectations was inadequate. Results on the impact indicators have also not been reported on. However â€¦ the program has demonstrated potential for improvements.â€ (See â€œMAL-102-G01-M-00-GSC.pdfâ€ at GFATM Mali Website.) There was also need for better program monitoring on the ground. Advocacy can help turn the potentials into realities.
MSF and Save the Children are not waiting for more children to fall ill and die from malaria. They are using community volunteers to get treatment out to the villages. According to the UN IRIN, â€œThe results from both the MSF project and a similar one being run by Save the Children are due to be presented to the government later this year, but the staff of both projects told IRIN that provisionally they have recorded at least a 50 percent improvement in the number of children being treated.â€ These successful efforts are another boon to the advocacy process. International donors and NGOs should use the example of Mali to pull together for advocacy efforts in all malaria endemic countries.