On the occasion of International Women’s Day, 8 March, Dr Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, has joined the International Gender Champions network. Launched in Geneva in 2015, International Gender Champions is a leadership network that brings together female & male decision-makers determined to break down gender barriers and make gender equality a working reality in their spheres of influence.
“Women, especially pregnant women and children, are disproportionately affected by malaria – an entirely preventable and treatable disease which puts half the world at risk and costs a child’s life every two minutes. It is therefore critical that we pay attention to gender aspects in the fight against malaria,” noted Dr Kesete Admasu.
“By joining the International Gender Champion network, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria will promote gender equality within its leadership and among its more than 500 partners ranging from malaria affected countries to private sector companies to research and non-profit organisations. We look forward to working with and learning from other Gender Champions in pursuit of our vision of a malaria-free world,” he added.
As part of joining the network, the RBM Partnership CEO committed to establish in 2018 an RBM Partnership Gender Task Force, bringing in members from throughout the Partnership, to ensure gender considerations are adequately reflected in the malaria sector. He further pledged to achieve gender parity in the RBM Partnership leadership positions and partnership mechanisms, including the Board, Partner Committees and Secretariat.
The RBM Partnership also contributed to the Global Health 50/50 report, launched on 8 March, focusing on gender equality in organisations working in or influencing global health. Global Health 50/50 is an independent initiative to advance action and accountability for gender equality in global health and contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who wrote the Foreword to the report, has encouraged other sectors to undertake similar analyses.
The 1st of February 2018 marked my first year in office as CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. It has been a remarkable year for the reinvigorated RBM Partnership and, with the new Partnership mechanisms, Board-approved Strategic Plan 2018-2020, and the Secretariat team in place, we have now reached our ‘cruising altitude’ just in time for this crucial year for the global malaria community.
In this month’s update, I would like to share three of the Partnership’s priority initiatives for 2018.
Mobilising political commitment: We have entered 2018 firmly at a crossroads in the fight against malaria, especially in Africa which carries more than 90% of the disease burden and progress has stalled over the past few years. We need a new movement to mobilise the political will and resources, as well as citizen action, towards effective malaria control and elimination.
Inspired by Senegal’s “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” campaign, the RBM Partnership and the African Union Commission are now working together to launch a major public-facing campaign for a malaria-free Africa at the forthcoming African Union Summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania in July. In its new expanded phase, the “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” campaign will reignite grassroot movements in which individuals, families, communities, religious leaders, private sector, political leaders, and other members of the community pledge to take responsibility in the fight against malaria.
This pan-African initiative to defeat malaria befits with the African Union reform agenda of popular movement and civic engagement to deal with the continent’s key issues. Through this campaign, while providing a unique opportunity to engage communities from the grassroots level up to the Heads of State, we hope to generate renewed commitments for the fight against malaria, such as increasing domestic resources, multisectoral interventions, and robust involvement of the private sector.
Promoting regional cooperation: Regional cooperation is key to defeating malaria and is therefore at the heart of the Partnership’s strategy for 2018-2020. Several sub-regions across the world have stepped up their cross-border collaborative efforts towards malaria elimination – the Greater Mekong sub region, E8 nations in southern Africa and Mesoamerica malaria elimination financing initiative are notable examples. At their meeting in Monaco last year, eight west African countries — Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger Senegal and The Gambia — have agreed to accelerate malaria elimination in the Sahel region, and we are now working with WHO and other partners to roll out this initiative in 2018.
China’s support to malaria endemic countries: The People’s Republic of China is a strategic development and the largest trading partner to malaria affected countries. It is stepping up its effort of mutual economic development to an unprecedented level. The RBM Partnership has established a China-RBM steering committee by drawing senior leaders from relevant Chinese institutions, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and WHO. The aim of this collaboration is to leverage China’s investment and better align its bilateral aid to meet national malaria programme needs – contributing everything from innovation, to provision of quality-assured commodities and building capacity in surveillance and operations. A scoping mission to four African countries will be conducted in April and will hopefully be followed by a demonstration project. The steering committee is also tasked to organise a high-level malaria summit in 2019.
2018 also marks 20 years since the launch of the original RBM Partnership. It is therefore an opportunity to not only celebrate two decades of collective action by more than 500 RBM Partners, but also look ahead at the next 20 years which I hope will bring us closer to realising our shared vision of a malaria-free world.
I look forward to hearing from and engaging with many of you in the year ahead and thank you again for your continued support to the RBM Partnership.
The RBM Partnership to End Malaria is launching nominations for the Co-Chairs of its three Partner Committees, to lead the work of the Committees for the next three years.
The RBM Partner Committees are intended to formalise, consolidate and amplify the Partnership priorities of advocacy and resource mobilisation, strategic communications, and country/regional support.
The leadership of each Partner Committee consists of two Co-Chairs - individuals nominated and selected from amongst the RBM partners - supported by a Partner Committee Manager employed by the RBM Secretariat. The Co-Chairs are volunteers who commit to dedicating no less than 25% of their time (FTE) to the work of the RBM Partnership.
Following the transition of the RBM Partnership in 2016, the selection of the inaugural Partner Committee Co-Chairs followed a fast-tracked process with a limited term of one year, which was extended by six months (until 17 May 2018). A transparent and competitive process is now being run for the selection of Partner Committee Co-Chairs for a full three-year term (2018-2020).
The Co-Chairs are selected and approved by the Partnership Board from a shortlist presented by the Partner Committee via the CEO. The RBM Secretariat will administer the nomination process. The deadline for nominations is 25 March 2018, 23:59 GMT.
In January, malaria was high on the agenda of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa. The RBM Partnership to End Malaria, together with its partners, including the African Union Commission, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Leaders’ Malaria Alliance (ALMA), used the occasion to shine the spotlight on both the successes and the challenges of malaria control and elimination in Africa.
Malaria efforts in Africa are indeed at a crossroads. While some countries have seen a greater than 20% increase in malaria cases and deaths since 2016, others are showing that beating malaria is possible.
On 26 January, senior health, finance and foreign affairs officials from across the continent were briefed on the latest findings from the WHO’s World Malaria Report 2017 signaling that, for the first time in more than a decade, progress against malaria on the African continent, which accounts for almost 90% of the global malaria burden, has stalled.
Meanwhile, a recent RBM Partnership analysis of 30 African countries’ applications to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria revealed that high-burden countries such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) also face significant gaps in financing core malaria interventions over the next three years. Nigeria alone accounts for 27% of global malaria cases and faces a financial gap of US$ 1.4 billion to fully implement its national malaria strategic plan.
African leaders have committed to meeting the 2020 milestones of reducing the burden of malaria by 40%. As part of Agenda 2063, the leaders have also expressed their collective political aspiration to achieve a malaria free Africa. The recent uneven performance across the continent puts at risk the tremendous progress to-date and African leaders’ collective ambition to end the disease. Thus, the message delivered by the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat at the joint AU-RBM event was unequivocal: we must sustain the political commitment to end malaria for good.
Examples of such political leadership and commitment were celebrated just two days later, on 28 January, at the annual ALMA Excellence Awards presented by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and incoming African Union Chairman and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Four countries — the Gambia, Madagascar, Senegal and Zimbabwe — were lauded for reducing malaria cases by more than 20% between 2015 and 2016, while Algeria and Comoros were awarded excellence for being on track to achieve more than 40% reduction in cases by 2020. Algeria could well become the first African nation to be certified as malaria-free by WHO later this year.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria — itself inspired and championed by leaders from across the African continent. As we celebrate two decades of collective action through the RBM Partnership, we must make 2018 a watershed year for malaria efforts in Africa — from the highest political level down to the local communities where the everyday fight against malaria is being fought.
Seven countries – Botswana, Comoros, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania and Sri Lanka – took part in a workshop organised by the Country Regional Support Partnership Committee (CRSPC) of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria in Nairobi, Kenya from 17-19 January 2018. The Mock Technical Review Panel (TRP) workshops use a blend of expert feedback and peer review to assist countries in preparing their funding applications to the Global Fund, which provides over half of all international funding for malaria.
During the three-day event, participants discussed how to strengthen their proposals, for instance by integrating community rights and gender issues, and analysing previously submitted grants. Sri Lanka also briefed countries on their experience in malaria elimination.
Following the workshop, four countries – Botswana, Comoros, Djibouti and Madagascar – will submit their proposals to the Global Fund in February 2018 (window 4). Mali and Mauritania are expected to complete their national strategic plans and gap analyses in time for submission in April 2018 (window 5).
Sri Lanka will also be submitting its proposal at that time, which will support transition from Global Fund resources to domestic financing. The transition funds will focus on strengthening surveillance and response systems and prevention of reintroduction of malaria. Meanwhile, Botswana is applying for the transitional funding to strengthen surveillance, and increase community involvement and ownership in a bid to eliminate malaria by 2020.
The RBM Partnership to End Malaria has been organising Mock TRP workshops since 2007, supporting over 50 countries in their funding applications, thus securing approximately US$3 billion for the 2017-2019 allocation period alone. The success and impact of the Mock TRPs were highlighted as a best practice by an independent evaluation led by the Global Fund.