With it being behind one in every three cases of medical consultation, Malaria is the most prevalent disease in Mali today. For several decades it has also been one of the leading causes of death in the country. These are the facts behind the Malian government’s strong and historic commitment to technical and financial partnerships to achieve mobilisation of the resources required for the permanent elimination of the disease by 2030. The pledge was made in the course of the 12th edition of the International Malaria Day coupled with the National Pandemic Week.
Tangible results have already been recorded in this context, according to the Director of the National Malaria Unit, Dr Diahara Traoré. The statistical services of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene state that there were 2,708,577 confirmed cases of Malaria in basic health structures Mali in 2018. Of these cases, 1,975,460 were simple cases, 793,117 serious cases and 1,178 cases resulting in death, which corresponds to a fatality rate of 0.43%. In Mali, malaria is the the leading cause of death among children aged between 0 and 5.
The seriousness of the epidemic has prompted the State to make tireless efforts in building partnerships with foreign organisations in order to reduce the fatality rate. According to the National Malaria Unit, these multilateral efforts have resulted in a decrease in the national prevalence rate to 19%, from 35% in 2017.
Pregnant women, children and babies remain the most susceptible to the disease. It is in this very specific context that President Kéita declared the fight against malaria one of the priorities of the Malian government, and announced unprecedented health reforms for children, elderly and pregnant women. Medical consultations and treatment are now free for those who are the most vulnerable.
For the last five years Mali has chaired the continental program WANECAM (West African Network for Antimalarial Drugs), which groups together Burkina Faso, Niger, Gabon and Mali with European partners such as Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland and Holland. Academics from all these countries have been involved in a five-year clinical research process to develop a new and revolutionary therapeutic combination against malaria. The establishment of this European-African partnership has contributed to the clinical development of two new types of malaria drugs, according to Dr Abdoulaye Djimdé, a parasitologist and Director of the programme.
2030: A Malaria-free Mali
"Mali with the support of its technical and financial partners will consolidate the gains made in the fight against malaria. A Malaria-free Mali is the result to which the government committed itself for the 2030 horizon. It is with a view of achieving this goal that we have joined several regional and international initiatives to increase our strategies and make them more efficient to fight this parasitic disease that decimates our population", says Dr Samba Sow, the Malian Minister of Health and Public Hygiene.
Dr Boubacar Sidibé, representative of the World Health Organization in Mali, says that Mali is one of the most badly affected countries in the Sahel region. "The best response to roll back malaria and its increasing death toll is determined by a strong political will at the national and global levels," he said, underlining that a stronger commitment by everyone would save Africa about $12 billion a year.
At this stage of the fight against the disease in Mali, two new types of vaccines are currently being tested by the Koulikoro Antimalarial laboratories in western Mali, according to the National Malaria Unit.
"In phase I of the test, these vaccines are already creating a hope for 100% protection, based on the first results. If their development continues in phases II and III, and both their effectiveness and security are confirmed, they will be a major additional weapon in the eradication of malaria in the coming years in Mali," says Dr Traoré.
The US Embassy, which is one of the most committed partners in the fight against malaria in Mali, expressed its satisfaction on the basis of results already achieved by Mali in recent years. "Malaria is a disease that can be permanently eliminated on earth, provided that all countries commit themselves thoroughly. The US, for its part, remains ready to help Mali in the long run in the fight for achieving the zero goals by 2030", said Dennis Hankins, US Ambassador to Mali.