Zambezi Expedition – the journey is not over

In March of this year the Zambezi Expedition set out on a three-month quest to rally political support for the fight against malaria and demonstrate the need for coordinated cross-border action by navigating three thousand kilometers through Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The Roll Back Malaria-sponsored Expedition spread awareness of malaria with the help of NGOs like Nets For Life and corporations like ExxonMobil. In fact the ExxonMobil press release observed that exactly 150 years after the Scottish missionary David Livingstone embarked on a historic journey along the Zambezi River, malaria remains a problem for the people along its shores.

The Mail and Guardian reported that, “Expedition members said many villagers along the river must travel long distances to the nearest medical post. Limited access to medical care and a lack of regional cooperation are hindering malaria prevention, group members said. ‘There are no borders for malaria,’ expedition manager Herve Verhoosel said. ‘Mosquitoes don’t get their passports stamped at the other side of the border.'”  A Reuters television news clip available on the Expedition’s website quotes one of the travelers talking about the challenge of community members trekking 70 kilometeres to a health facility to get malaria treatment in Angola.

In June as a follow-up the Zambezi Expedition was featured during a panel at the World Economic Forum. The Expedition website noted that, “Panelists Prof. Awa Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) and Sipho Mseleku, CEO of the Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCCI) underlined the critical importance of political commitment in fighting diseases of poverty such as malaria. They called for increased multi-country collaboration with specific attention to strengthening community engagement against poverty and disease. ‘Malaria knows no borders and the Roll Back Malaria Zambezi Expedition is a model for multi-country cooperation,’ said Prof Coll-Seck, ‘We hope that countries in other sub-regions will collaborate in this way because they have similar problems.'”

end-of-zambezi-expedition-in-mozambique_.jpgNow more than two months after the Expedition reached its end at the Indian Ocean [see photo by Marcus Bleasdale], malaria and mosquitoes still cross the Zambezi and the borders of countries along its shores.  As stated in the theme of the expedition and the first World Malaria Day, which was celebrated along the journey, malaria is a disease without borders – the journey of collaboration among countries and partners in the region should not stop just because the boats have reached their destination.

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