Politicians stress NGO involvement in malaria control

A theme of non-governmental actors in the battle against malaria was echoed by two politicians recently. One stressed the importance of NGOs at the national level, while the second emphasized the role of non-governmental players on the international scene.

Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, one of Nigeria’s presidential candidates, asked civil society groups in the country to brainstorm and produce a framework for monitoring the implementation of government projects, according to ThisDay. The candidate observed that, “Some of our health policies like the free malaria treatment is based on this policy and it is (sic) working efficiently,” although success overall in health and social programs requires a partnership between government and civil society, especially in monitoring and guaranteeing efficiency. Just last year Nigeria added a coalition of NGOs concerned about malaria to the constituencies electing representation to their Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM). A greater role for these constituents in grant implementation is needed in Nigeria and elsewhere.

Great Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered the closing speech at World Economic Forum in Davos. Blair emphasized that, “Into the void between identifying an issue’s importance and securing the means of acting on it, has increasingly stepped the non-governmental and non-state actors. The resource of the Gates Foundation is being put to the eradication of Malaria – a preventable disease which kills one million a year.”

The long term solution to malaria control will ultimately rest on a partnership between government and non-governmental actors, and even leadership by the latter. Part of the reason why malaria eradication failed in the 1950s and 1960s was inability of the health systems to incorporate and sustain the effort. Hopefully, 40-50 years later, health systems are stronger, but challenges seen in Global Fund Score Cards for malaria grants commonly point to systems and management issues as threats to malaria grant performance. National and international civil society groups, NGOs, corporate sponsors and philanthropic organizations must maintain an active role in the fight against malaria.

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