Yaoundé Declaration from the Malaria Ministerial Meeting 

Posted 14th March 2024 by Krystal Birungi

On Wednesday the 6th of March 2024, the Ministers of Health of High Burden High Impact (HBHI) countries in Africa, made a declaration and commitment that “no one shall die from malaria”. At their Ministerial meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon, they highlighted the WHO World Malaria Report that indicated ‘approximately 95% of malaria morbidity and mortality persist across Africa’. African countries ‘account for more than 70% of the global malaria burden’.  

Target Malaria operates in 3 of these countries, including my home country, Uganda. I hope that the impact of this declaration will have a positive influence across the African continent, rallying policymakers at the African regional level and leaders in malaria-endemic countries in the fight against malaria. 

The declaration singled out 7 key areas to improve upon, demonstrating relevant links to our work and the communities that we engage. This includes  

  • Political will 
  • Strategic use of information for action 
  • Better technical guidance 
  • Coordination 
  • Functional national health systems 
  • The adoption of a multisectoral approach 
  • Ensuring a functional malaria accountability mechanism 

The Ministers’ first focus will be ‘strengthening political will’ by providing leadership, advocating for and making financial considerations ‘in support of national malaria programmes’. This support is needed for scientific institutions looking to expand vector control programmes and research across Africa. 

They are also dedicated to ‘ensuring strategic use of information’ and ‘[investing] in the deployment of efficient and reliable health information systems’, which is essential in a time where misinformation is rampant.  

Our own engagement with communities across Africa and beyond, aims at addressing misinformation about malaria, such as the myth that any mosquito can transmit malaria, when in reality, only female mosquitoes of certain species in the Anopheles genius can transmit malaria. While we continue to make our own efforts to dispel myths in the singular communities that we operate in, I hope this enables the narrative around malaria to evolve at a pan-African scale. 

The Ministerial pledge to ‘support national malaria programmes with the best available evidence to permit the rapid adoption and deployment’ is a crucial consideration. There isn’t a vector control method that will enable us to achieve zero transmission overnight. We will need all the existing tools and the pipeline of innovative new tools to eliminate malaria in Africa. 

On this point the Declaration has an important section about the need for investment in research and development:  

“6. Building collaborative partnerships for resource mobilization, research and innovation 

6.1. We call for strengthened collaboration with international organizations, regional institutions such as the African Union and Regional Economic Committees, development partners and philanthropic organizations, civil society, and the private sector to mobilize resources, expertise and innovative solutions. 

6.2. We will support investment in research and innovation to develop new tools, strategies, and technologies for malaria control and elimination in high-burden countries, including digital solutions to expand coverage of interventions. 

6.3. We will join forces and encourage cross-border collaboration in malaria-endemic regions to intensify the fight against malaria.  

6.4. Building on the invaluable lessons learned from our response to COVID-19, we commit to supporting Africa-based manufacturing of products to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria in order to increase regional self-reliance and health security.” 

Another relevant point was the commitment to ‘enhancing coordination and multisectoral action’, including making considerations for populations living in hard-to-reach areas and conflict humanitarian settings’.  

In light of the concluding pledge ‘to hold each other and our countries accountable for the commitments outlined in this declaration’, I hope that these words are followed by concrete change in the governmental approach to the fight against malaria.