The Kigali Summit: an opportunity for world leaders to reaffirm commitments to end malaria and NTDs

Posted 23rd June 2022 by Krystal Birungi

I am delighted to be in Rwanda this week to attend the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) representing Target Malaria. Taking place on 23 June on the side-lines of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda, the Kigali Summit convenes endemic and donor country leaders, including presidents, community business leaders, and philanthropists, to galvanize action to end these diseases.

Taking place ahead of the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment later this year, the Summit is calling for investment in fighting these debilitating diseases. By eliminating them, we will be able to build more resilient health systems, improve pandemic preparedness and prevention, and support healthier populations.

“The Summit comes at a pivotal time for world leaders to reaffirm commitments to end malaria and NTDs – diseases that afflict the lives and livelihoods of billions of people around the world.”

In 2020, nearly half of humanity was at risk of malaria, and in recent years, progress against malaria has begun to plateau as investment stalled, with sub-Saharan Africa bearing the largest brunt, carrying 95% of malaria cases and 96% of malaria deaths. While great progress has been made in averting millions of cases and deaths with existing interventions, the rate of progress has levelled off since 2015 and, in 2020, disruptions to malaria services during the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the situation. In 2020, six countries in sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 55% of all malaria cases globally.

As a field entomologist from Uganda, I am passionate about the importance of African-led research and innovations to end malaria. For this to happen, continued investment in the initiatives pioneering this work is essential. In particular, donors must fully commit to the replenishment of the Global Fund, which provides 60% of all international financing to malaria programmes. As a Commonwealth country and a founding member of the Global Fund, I am calling on the UK in particular to strengthen its’ commitment towards ending malaria by increasing its contribution to the Global Fund by one third to meet its’ $18 billion target.

Krystal speaking at the Commonwealth Youth Forum, in the lead up to the Kigali Summit

Thanks to political leadership and funding, we have succeeded in saving and improving billions of lives for generations to come. Let’s use the Kigali Summit as a historic opportunity to accelerate action against malaria and NTDs and unlock the potential of countries to build a healthier, safer and stronger world.