Dear RBM Partners,
No one could have anticipated how 2020 has turned out. As I reflect on this trying and turbulent year, I am incredibly proud of the leadership and momentum we have seen in the fight against malaria and would like to thank our partners around the globe for never wavering in their commitment.
The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic truly tested the mettle of the global malaria community and reinforced the very meaning of our Partnership. Thanks to the incredible action and resolve of malaria affected countries, their development partners, and dedicated health workers, we were able to avoid the worst-case scenario of a doubling of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year and deliver 90% of planned malaria programmes. This means that 200 million mosquito nets are on schedule to be delivered by the end of this month, and over 20 million children have been reached with seasonal malaria chemoprevention. This remarkable achievement shows that we can do anything when we put our mind to it.
Since 2000, the world has made tremendous progress against malaria, saving 7.6 million lives and preventing 1.5 billion new infections. This incredible advancement was not by chance; partners overcame significant challenges and adapted their responses.
And we continue to achieve. This year’s WHO World Malaria Report showed that global malaria deaths fell to the lowest figure on record in 2019 at 409,000. Some regions, such as the Greater Mekong Subregion, have reduced their malaria burden by over 90% since 2000. Around the world, 27 countries have registered less than 100 malaria cases, showing that elimination is firmly within reach.
That said, the pace of progress against malaria has slowed in recent years, with cases rising and the full impact of COVID-19 yet to be revealed. Extraordinary efforts by countries have helped prevent a disastrous resurgence of malaria for now, but the threat is far from over. Africa continues to shoulder the heaviest burden of malaria – over 90% of global infections and deaths, and the COVID-19 pandemic will no doubt cast a long shadow for malaria efforts across the continent.
As we look toward 2021, it is critical to not allow the COVID-19 pandemic to distract us in our mission to end this disease within a generation. Investments in malaria bring outsize returns not only in terms of stronger health systems, but also stronger economies and communities. With so much to gain, the investment in malaria control, and ultimately elimination, is one of the greatest ventures any country can make. Scaled-up support is essential, as is the need for greater innovation, use of real time data, and greater funding to close the US$2.6 billion funding gap which continues to hold us back in our mission.
On behalf of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, I would like to thank all RBM Partners around the globe for your hard work and dedication. I have no doubt that by working together in partnership next year, we will continue to save hundreds of millions of lives and bring us another step closer to a malaria-free world.
Wishing you all a restful holiday season and a healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year 2021.
Dr Abdourahmane Diallo
CEO, RBM Partnership to End Malaria