South Africa at the Forefront of Malaria Elimination

South Africa as just hosted the 2013 Africa Nations Cup (AFCON) football finals. At the launching of the United Against Malaria (UAM) campaign in collaboration with Confederation of African Football (CAF), RBM (MAWG), and SARN among other partners, the Minister of Health for South Africa explained his country’s commitment to eliminating malaria. Excerpts from the meeting, kindly provided by Daniso Mbewe, summarize the Minister’s remarks.

malaria-profile-south-africa-sm.jpg“We are so excited to host 2013 AFCON. We love to have visitors come to our beautiful country. One of the advantages to coming to South Africa for the African Cup is the much reduced risk of getting malaria. We are proud to be among the first African countries to be working on eliminating malaria. There are less than 10,000 cases of malaria a year, and they are in an area that we are monitoring closely. Ten years ago, we couldn’t talk about eliminating malaria on the African continent and be taken seriously. Even 5 years ago, many would have never believed it. Today, we have the data to help us tell this story.

“In recent years, we have learned about how a robust health system, with close monitoring of malaria cases can give us the information we need to correctly diagnose and treat each case of malaria. You can’t believe how important it is to track each case down, and be sure that treatment is successful and complete.

“Here in southern Africa; there are already four leading countries well on their way to malaria elimination including provinces and districts in the remaining E8 countries (Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa in tier one, and Zimbabwe, Angola, Zambia and Mozambique in tier two) However, for us to stay on track and for other countries to reach sustained malaria control like we have, it required investments and commitments from all sectors. Then and only then, will the malaria map shrink. ”

Of interest, Dr Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Health, was born in Phokwane Village in Limpopo – one of the few regions where malaria remains, though at a steadily diminishing rate. The Ministry’s commitment to eliminating malaria is therefore not surprising. In fact South Africa has shown leadership in the region through participation in two cross-border malaria elimination efforts. This is an example of political will that all countries on the continent need to follow.

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