By Kudakwashe Pembere
Recognising that the progress or failure of one country’s efforts to eliminate malaria is connected to the success of other countries in the region, the Elimination 8 (E8) was established by SADC to coordinate a collaborative effort, led by the Ministers of Health in eight countries, to jointly plan, execute a regional malaria elimination strategy. Countries involved are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
GF contributes most of the funds for implementation of projects and medication of malaria, TB and AIDS.
Addressing delegates at a grant signing ceremony in Harare, chairing E8, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said the grant will start on April 1, 2019 ending September 30, 2021. The first grant signing ceremony was held in Kasane, Botswana in 2015.
“This is a continuation of the support worth US$17 million which has been provided to the region from October 2015 up to September 2018 extended to March 2019,” he said.
The Minister said the initial amount was US$14, 2 million with part of the money used to cover the extension period.
“The grant we are signing today is worth US$14, 2 million of which US$2, 1 million has already been used for the extension period ending on March 31, 2019. The focus of the grant on activities that are catalytic, regional in nature and structure to give us high impact,” he said.
Dr Moyo said the areas in focus include continuation of health post support, epidemic preparedness and response capacity building through maintaining of ‘The Situation Room’ platform, vector control capacity building, supporting Angola with indoor residual spraying and supplying of bed nets and conducting of regional coordination meetings.
GF Grant Management Head Mr Mark Edington said the grant is meant to address challenges faced by E8 countries in fighting malaria.
“So what does this new grant mean? So this US$12 million grant that we are signing today will allow the initiative to continue to work between effective now 2019 to 2021 to address the shared challenges across the eight countries such as malaria parasite movement, access to health services for border areas, quality assurance for diagnostics and alignment of investment priorities,” he said. “And I think alignment is one of the critical things that comes out of this grant.”
As GF, Mr Edington said they, “…remain committed to providing the necessary support needed to ensure the effective implementation of the new grants over the next three years.”
He said domestic funding is critical in supplementing what GF would have provided.
“We also hope that this new grant will enable E8 to maintain the regional forum for collaboration but also importantly to intensify strategies for domestic resource mobilization. And the Global Fund can’t do this alone and domestic resource mobilization will be critical,” Mr Edington said.
Mr Edington bemoaned the resurgence of malaria in some SADC countries.
“In some countries we are seeing some troubling trends over the last two or three years. They also suggest in Malaria we may be seeing some resurgence towards levels in countries that were well on their way towards elimination.
“And I think the recent floods that have sadly affected Zimbabwe and Mozambique are sadly an example for potential resurgence. But hopefully we can anticipate to avoid or diminish the impact of it. But I think one of the reasons of this grant, we need to continue the support to the region with these very ambitious targets that they set out,” he said.
The first grant focused on the hard to reach population groups particularly those along border districts and mobile migrant groups. From this grant, 33 border health posts were constructed and 13 surveillance units were set up cross the eight member states enabling case management services such as testing and treatment to be accessed by over half a million people.
“Over 570 000 people were tested across those five priority borders with 26 percent being migrants. Almost 40 000 positive cases were diagnosed and treated with first line anti-malarials,” Mr Edington said.