The award winners
The award winners

Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative raises US$6 million; Champions celebrated 

Domestic funding has been recognised as a major step towards ending malaria burden in Africa, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

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The various speakers who took turns to speak at a gala dinner held in Togo on February 15, 2024, to celebrate the private sector champions and companies that have contributed to the fight against malaria through the "Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative", all stressed the need to intensify domestic funding for malaria elimination efforts through a private sector-led approach.

The gala attracted about 100 business leaders and representatives of governments and organisations from Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal and Uganda. 

Awards 

Nine companies and three champions were recognised for their significant contributions to the fight against malaria between 2021 and 2024, to the tune of US$6 million in in-kind and financial contributions.

The companies are MTN Benin; Polyclinique St Vincent de Paul; Univers Bio Medical; Iris Conception Trade (ICT); The Multimedia Group; Canal+ SénégaI; CONS; NEXTMEDIA, and Rimka.

The three malaria champions were Honorable Aké Natondé from Benin, Kenneth Mugisha, President of Malaria Free Uganda, and Samuel Asiedu Agyei, Director of Anglogold Ashanti Malaria (AGAMAL) in Ghana. 

Malaria burden 

Even though malaria is entirely preventable and treatable, the World Health Organisation says, despite sustained global efforts to reduce malaria cases, 249 million cases were recorded in 2022, with 94 per cent out of the number concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa. 

In some African countries, malaria can impact GDP growth by up to 1.3 per cent, placing a significant burden on businesses. It is for this reason that the involvement of the private sector has been identified as a key element to boost national objectives and mobilise more partners and resources.

Considering the impact of the malaria burden on local economies, the Ecobank Group in 2020, in collaboration with the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and Speak Up Africa, launched the “Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative” to mobilise the private sector for malaria control efforts. 

Resource mobilisation 

It is important to mention that since its launch, the initiative, implemented in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal and Uganda, has raised US$6 million in financial and in-kind contributions. This has contributed significantly to malaria elimination efforts in the named countries and by extension, Africa. 

To date, some 60 companies from the African private sector have contributed, and many business leaders considered champions in this fight have lent their voice and expertise to strengthen the prioritisation of malaria by bringing together decision-makers. 

Speaking at the gala, the founder and Executive Director of Speak Up Africa, Yacine Djibo, said "Health and the economy are closely linked” and that “It is vital that we work together to strengthen political commitment, coordinate the actions of all stakeholders and guarantee sustainable domestic funding in each of our states.” 

For her, Africa's private sector has enormous potential to catalyse positive change, and “we recognise the power of partnerships to solve African problems including malaria.”

She also called for new approaches with regard to fighting malaria in Africa, noting that “at a time when the cost of treating malaria and its impact on our African economies is well known, we need more than ever to rethink the fight against this old, preventable and treatable disease.”

For hiser part, the Group Executive, Human Resources, Ecobank, Yves Mayilamene, said “Together, we recognised that the private sector must play a major role in helping to end malaria by providing essential funding, broader awareness and political advocacy – and acting as champions.”

SHhe was of the view that the private sector helps to strengthen the partnership around national malaria control programmes, adding that “As the leading pan-African banking Group, we could not remain insensitive to the damage caused by this disease within our communities. We are an African bank, and our purpose is Africa.”

Yves Mayilamene added, “We are also firmly committed to going beyond in meeting our corporate and social responsibility. This is exemplified by our Ecobank Foundation through which Ecobank shows its actions as a good corporate citizen. Therefore, launching the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative in 2020 was no surprise.”

Mr Philippe Batienon, who represented the CEO of RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Dr Michael Adekunle Charles, commended the awards finalists, saying “I am delighted that the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative has been able to come together in one place to honor the work which is being done as part of this programme and congratulate the partners for their great success.”

He expressed the hope that a strong partnership between relevant organisations and actors would help to overcome malaria in Africa.

“The RBM Partnership is just that - a Partnership. The ability to convene with one mission, in a multisectoral approach, to collaborate and work together to end malaria, gives me great hope that we will be able to defeat this disease,” he stated.

Mr Batienon congratulated the award winners on their dedication to the fight against malaria and also commended the various governments involved in the initiative Togolese Government, Ecobank Foundation and Speak Up Africa for their continued determination to support this fight.

“I urge business leaders inspired by this moment to come together and join us. Cross-sectorally, we can achieve our goals,” he stated.

Led by the Ecobank Group and Speak Up Africa, and in collaboration with the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the "Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative” supports the second pillar of the "Zero Malaria Starts with Me” campaign, launched in Senegal in 2014 and endorsed by the African Union in 2018. 

The "Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative" supports malaria-risk communities across the continent by advocating for stronger political will, increased funding and more targeted malaria elimination strategies. 

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