Zimbabwe is among six countries that were honored for their exemplary leadership in tackling malaria cases at and contributing the Malaria Free-Africa by 2030 campaign.
The country received the honour from the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) at the 30th African Union Summit, in Addis Ababa ,Ethiopia.
The awards were presented to the heads of state of Zimbabwe, Gambia, Senegal, Madagascar, Algeria and Comoros for reducing Malaria cases by more than 20% from 2015-16 as well as being on track to achieve more than 40% drop of malaria cases by 2020.
In a statement, Prime Minister of Swaziland Dr Barnabas Dlamini said “When we take our eyes off malaria, the cost of our countries is huge, yet if we increase our efforts to control and eventually eliminate malaria the yield we get from it is tremendous.
“It is time that we dig deep into our pockets and provide malaria programmes with the needed resources.”
At the awards ceremony countries were urged to prioritize funding for malaria to ensure that life-saving tools such as medicines, mosquito nets and indoor residual spray while investing in better surveillance.
United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterras commented on the awards saying “In a new development era, we must go further with greater resolve to not only reverse malaria incidence but to stop transmission altogether,
“Success will require even greater commitment and stronger collaboration across sectors and borders particularly as countries near their elimination targets.”
In the recent years, countries like Rwanda have increased their reporting of malaria cases with the help of global partners. In addition, last year African countries purchased and distributed 203 million mosquito nets to families across Africa.
Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn added that “As heads of state and government of the African Union, we will have an opportunity to review our progress on neglected tropical diseases as part of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) scorecard.
“These diseases deserve our attention, I urge my fellow African leaders to build on the progress already made and increase their efforts to tackle neglected tropical diseases and make them a subject for much concerted effort and action at the African Union.”
The ALMA awards came two months after the World Malaria Report revealed that progress was fragile and uneven in 2016.
More than 40 countries are on track to meet global elimination goals. Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease that still affects hundreds of millions of families across Africa.
It keeps children out of school and prevents parents from earning a steady income costing the African economy US$12billion a year in direct losses and 1.3% of lost annual GDP growth.