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Addis Ababa Saturday, 18 February 2023.

At a malaria awards ceremony and press conference held at the African Union Summit 2023, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) received a call to action led by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria urging African and world leaders to do more to protect expectant mothers and babies from malaria.

A book with an open letter and more than 1000 signatures was handed over to the Executive Secretary of ALMA at a media briefing and malaria awards’ ceremony at the 2023 African Union Summit.  The letter, which called on decision makers to prioritize pregnant women and newborns in the response to malaria, included signatures from 43 countries and more than 300 organizations in Africa.  

Pregnant women and newborns are particularly vulnerable to malaria infection. Unfortunately, they often face gaps in malaria services. Last year, only one in three eligible pregnant women across sub-Saharan Africa received the full course of preventive antimalarial treatment as recommended by the World Health Organization. Also known as IPTp with quality-assured SP, this is a simple and cost-effective solution against malaria that saves the lives of mothers and babies. While uptake has improved in the last decade, coverage has remained low compared to other malaria-control interventions and falls short of global targets. 

Joy Phumaphi said, “As Executive Secretary of ALMA, I fully endorse this call to action. The ALMA scorecard is aimed at driving progress for these populations by helping countries track the delivery of reproductive, maternal and newborn, and child and adolescent health services. And indeed, we must do more. Last year, a staggering 40 million mothers-to-be in sub-Saharan Africa were at risk of this terrible disease, and two thirds did not get the malaria preventive treatment they needed.”

In his keynote address, President Umaro Sissoco Embaló of Guinea Bissau, current ALMA chair, affirmed his commitment to focus on mobilizing domestic resources to eliminate malaria in Africa as the disease continues to claim the lives of the most vulnerable.

President William Ruto of Kenya received Kenya’s award as the winner of the best reproductive, maternal and newborn, child and adolescent health scorecard tool. He highlighted the need to ensure that all pregnant women, adolescents, and young children receive life-saving malaria interventions to make meaningful progress towards Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Find out more about how the RBM Partnership is working to protect more expectant mothers and their babies from malaria here