BOTSWANA has received the 2016 African Leaders Malaria Alliance (Alma) award, in recognition of its attainment of more than 75% of the goals set for control and management of the disease in terms of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set in 2000.
The award was officially handed over to Health Minister Dorcas Makgato at a media conference in the capital, Gaborone, at the weekend.
The local handover ceremony came nearly a week after a pre-announcement during the meeting of the coalition of African Heads of State working to eradicate the disease at the African Union, headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In her acceptance speech, Ms Makgato said Botswana would continue to work towards achieving 100% of the MDG goals so that the country could be free of malaria and another epidemics within the next five years.
She said the country would expand its malaria control programme with the employment of more health experts in the field of malaria control.
Ms Makgato said the ministry would decentralise malaria control services to rural clinics and satellite outposts, where treatment services would be provided alongside expanded public education programmes aimed at controlling the mosquito-borne disease.
Botswana had just been allocated a total grant of $32.7m by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to support the local fight against the triple scourge. She said the fight against malaria had been boosted by a grant of $5.12m while the combined fight against HIV/Aids and TB was allocated $27m.
The funding will be used to eliminate malaria, mitigate and reduce the socioeconomic effect of TB and prevent new HIV infections. According to the minister, Botswana remained on course to achieve its goal of complete eradication of TB and malaria by 2020 and control of HIV/AIDS by 2030.
“As one of the few countries hardest hit by the epidemic, Botswana aims to achieve epidemic control of HIV by 2020 and ending AIDS by 2030. This should be possible with vertical HIV transmission having been reduced from 40% without intervention to less than 3% today,” Ms Makgato said.
In Addis Ababa, Botswana was recognised together with SA, Namibia, Cape Verde, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Swaziland and Eritrea for excellence and commitment, which led to the achievement of the MDG targets for malaria control.
Comoros, Guinea and Mali were awarded for being most improved in malaria control between 2011 and 2015. Liberia, Rwanda and Senegal were recognised for good performance in malaria control in the same period.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), overall sub-Saharan African malaria mortality rates fell 66% among all age groups and 71% among children under five years in the 15 years since the MDG targets were set in 2000.
Africa’s annual malaria death rate had dropped from an estimated 764,000 in 2000 to 395,000 by 2015.
At least 633-million new cases of malaria were prevented in sub-Saharan Africa in the same period. Despite the great strides, malaria remains a problem in Africa, with at least 188-million new cases recorded each year.
The high prevalence rate is attributed to the continued lack of access to antimalarial healthcare for millions of Africans and the growing phenomenon of drug resistance among patients.