ALMA awards seven African countries for malaria control efforts

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance announced on Thursday that it awarded seven African countries for demonstrating exemplary leadership in malaria control.

H.E. Armando Guebuza, the president of Mozambique, presented the ALMA Awards for Excellence in Vector Control to Swaziland, São Tomé and Principe, Rwanda, Namibia, Malawi, Madagascar and Cape Verde. Guebuza presented the awards during the official opening of the African Union Summit of heads of state.

Each of the seven countries maintained at least 95 percent coverage of long-lasting insecticidal nets and/or indoor residual spraying interventions throughout the year.

Malaria kills 627,000 people annually, most of them in Africa. Guebuza, the chair of ALMA, said the continent must continue to make progress against the deadly disease.

"We cannot lose ground in our struggle to end preventable deaths and suffering from malaria," Guebuza said. "Our people and our communities are counting on us to continue to scale proven interventions to insure that no African loses their livelihood or life to this ancient disease."

In December, the World Malaria Report declared that the scaling-up of malaria control interventions saved an estimated 3.1 million lives in Africa since 2000 and reduced malaria mortality rates by 49 percent.

The disease, however, continues to wreak a major toll on Africa by burdening fragile health systems, causing absenteeism in school, negatively impacting agricultural productivity and businesses and robbing African countries of at least $12 billion annually in economic potential.