International Malaria Forum to be Held in Bamako, Mali

Participants at the closing ceremony of the International Malaria Forum

Chaired by Mali Prime Minister Modibo Sidibe, an International Malaria Forum for Parliamentarians from West and Central Africa will be held in Bamako from 13 to 15 July 2010 at the Hotel Salam. Twenty countries within this sub-region and a dozen international institutions from Europe and the United States will participate.

Speakers and panelists include malaria experts and advocates who will assist Parliamentarians to engage in the fight against malaria and increase their understanding of the role they can play to sustain malaria control in West and Central Africa. Parliamentarians, on their part, will discuss how to ensure that an adequate allocation of national budgetary resources is devoted to health in general and to the fight against malaria in particular. The hope is that this forum will embolden their commitment to upholding a commitment to financing health systems, and the fight against malaria,, a preventable and treatable disease, which weighs heavy on health systems throughout West and Central Africa.
African Heads of States over the years have endorsed a host of comprehensive policy strategies and environmental changes to eliminate malaria from their countries, yet progress has been slow. In recent years, the combined effects of socio-economic and climatic conditions, deteriorating sanitation, large-scale population movements and poverty have contributed to increased bouts of malaria—with a detrimental impact on the economy of local communities and households. The economic impact of malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa is currently estimated at more than US$2 billion, constituting a major obstacle to economic development in a continent where the growth rate could have increased by an estimated 32% had malaria been eradicated 35 years ago. Recognizing this burden, the Heads of African States and Governments in 2001 committed to taking appropriate measures to strengthen and sustain health systems so that by 2015, at least 60% of malaria patients have access to prompt, adequate and affordable treatment within 24 hours after the onset of symptoms. They also committed to granting at least 60% of those at risk, including pregnant women and children under age 5, with the most effective combination of personal and community-based protective measures, such as insecticide-treated bed 2 nets. Moreover, African leaders that same year signed-off on a statement committing them to allocate at least 15% of their national budgets to health. But almost a decade later, only six countries have followed through on their 15% commitments.

Forum objectives are to sensitize African Parliamentarians to the extent of malaria and its adverse consequences on the socio-economic development of the continent; to lay the groundwork for the development of a multi-faceted partnership that can support endemic country government efforts in the fight against malaria in Africa; and to highlight the importance of transparency in the management of resources, good governance and accountability measures as factors to sustain funding levels.

Anticipated Forum participants include parliamentarians from most countries in West and Central Africa and representatives from ALMA (the African Leaders Malaria Alliance), the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), the Islamic Development Bank (IBD), the Parliamentary Center Africa Office in Ghana, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF, amongst others.
This initiative is co-sponsored by IBD, IFRC, RBM, and the Voices for a Malaria-Free Future project at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs.

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