A new tracker has been launched to help Commonwealth countries monitor progress towards drastically reducing malaria cases by 2023, leading to its ultimate eradication by 2030.
Developed by a group of malaria experts and the Commonwealth Secretariat, the tracker supports a new report on progress towards the malaria commitment made by Commonwealth leaders in 2018 to reduce the number of malaria cases by half across endemic countries by 2023.
This reduction would prevent millions of malaria cases and save thousands of lives.
The report shows significant progress with nearly one-third of malaria-endemic Commonwealth countries on track to halve their case incidence and mortality rate from the disease by the end of 2019.
Despite country-level progress, as a grouping, the Commonwealth is currently not on track to reach the 50 percent reduction target. The report calls on countries to accelerate action in the coming years to reach the historic target in the face of severe disruptions in malaria services caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ahead of the launch, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “Although Covid-19 has seized the world’s attention and resources, it is equally important for us to maintain focus on our pre-pandemic commitments and also sustain gains in malaria and other health conditions.
“Allowing ourselves to be distracted would result in irreparable damage to major health gains and human security.”
Last month, the tracker and report were presented at the annual meeting of Commonwealth Health Ministers, who endorsed both resources in their joint statement and agreed to accelerate action on the halving target as well as on their regional and global commitments to end malaria by 2030.
After the meeting, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Daniel Ngamige said: “It is clear from discussions at the Health Ministers meeting that we must get back on track to meet the commitment to halve malaria by 2023 and accelerate progress towards elimination in line with our global and regional commitments will be vital.”
Investment in defeating malaria will not only save 217,000 lives in the Commonwealth every year, he added, but will also have an add-on effect on strengthening overall health systems that are well equipped to tackle outbreaks and protect all citizens.
“Rwanda is committed to lead by example in reducing the Commonwealth’s malaria burden. To achieve this, we need a constant dialogue between states and partners on how we can learn from each other on defeating malaria.
“We look forward to working with our Commonwealth partners to ensure the next CHOGM is a key milestone, both for our mutual accountability on the commitment and accelerating progress on defeating malaria,” Ngamige added.
The digital tracker offers an interactive display to assist member governments in monitoring targets in graphs and maps as well as in identifying areas for improvement.