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Pan-African Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign celebrates 2nd anniversary

By Mohamed Konneh

Two years ago, on July 2nd 2018, African Heads of States and Governments launched the Pan-African Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign at the 31st African Union Summit. Co-led by the African Union Commission and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the campaign has been growing in momentum ever since, with Sierra Leone launching its national campaign on World Malaria Day 2019 and a total of 15 African countries now having done the same. 

 2nd July 2020, Sierra Leone, the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign turns 2. Also known as “Zéro Palu ! Je m’engage” in French, “Zero Malaria Começa Comigo” in Portuguese, “Ziro Malaria Inaaza Na Mimi” in Swahili, and, of course, “Malaria e Don Wan Dae Na Mi Han” in Krio, this continent-wide campaign for a malaria free Africa is going from strength to strength.

In Sierra Leone between May and June 2020 and despite operating in extremely challenging circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Malaria Control Program successfully distributed 4.6 million bed nets – the equivalent to one bed net for every two Sierra Leoneans – to communities across the country. This is a shining example of a deep commitment to protecting the lives of everyone, and particular the most vulnerable – pregnant women and children under 5 – from this deadly disease. 

In Sierra Leone, 1.78 million malaria cases and 1,949 deaths were confirmed in 2018 alone. Malaria continues to be one of the most urgent public health issues across Africa, which is why, on the 2nd anniversary of the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign, our network of partners and champions are recommitting to the ambitious goal of malaria elimination by 2030 and to taking the campaign to the next level in the years ahead.  

“I strongly encourage all members of society, including politicians, local councils, religious leaders, paramount chiefs, the private sector, civil society organisations and the population at large to take responsibility for the fight against malaria and join me in becoming an advocate and champion of the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign and the goal of malaria elimination by 2030”, said Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer OBE.   

While the goal is indeed ambitious, it is also realistic if everyone, from all corners of society, joins the fight. Sierra Leone is showcasing to the African continent the power of a multi-sectoral approach: in just one year Mayors, religious leaders, paramount chiefs, the media, local councils, health and government officials, civil society organizations, celebrities, footballers, models, actors, musicians and comedians have been declaring Malaria e Don Wan Dae Na Mi Han.

 “On behalf of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone I would like to extend our support to the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign and assure the population that both Christian and Islamic leaders are fully committed to the cause of eliminating malaria. We pray that all Sierra Leoneans take the necessary steps to protect themselves, their families and their communities and that we, as a nation, can come together in solidarity against this common enemy”, added Rev. Dr. Usman Jesse Fornah, General Secretary of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone.

This past month we saw a wide range of champions participate in an awareness raising video, which will be broadcast on national television and radio later this month, as well as a group of popular musicians writing and producing a song and music video in support of the campaign. The dedication of citizens from all walks of life has been astounding to witness.

We urge all to join the fight for a malaria free Africa. If you do one thing today, ensure that everyone in your family and in your neighborhood has installed their mosquito nets and are sleeping under them all year round. 

To find out more information about the campaign go to www.zeromalaria.africa and participate on social media using the hashtag #ZeroMalariaStartsWithMe or #MalariaeDonWanDaeNaMiHan

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