Remarks by USAID Mission Director Sheryl Stumbras
World Malaria Day Commemoration Event
April 26, 2021
(as prepared for delivery)
Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Jonas Chanda
WHO Country Representative, Dr. Nathan Bakyaita (By chai ta)
Permanent Secretary of Technical Services, Dr. Kennedy Malama
Director of Health Promotion, Environment and Social Determinants, Dr. Able Kabalo
Health Care Professionals across Zambia
Members of the Media
Today, we commemorate World Malaria Day under this year’s theme, “Draw a Line for Malaria Free Zambia.”
Each year, World Malaria Day highlights global efforts to control malaria, acknowledging the progress we have made in prevention and treatment and emphasizing the work that remains in the fight against this deadly disease.
This year’s celebration comes at a critical time in our efforts to eliminate malaria in Zambia. In 2020, we saw the first increases in the number of people getting sick and dying from malaria in years. So it is fitting that this year’s theme is about drawing the line against malaria. As a longtime partner in the fight against malaria, the U.S. government is committed to supporting Zambia in drawing that line and ensuring we sustain the past gains we have achieved.
Since 2007, the United States President’s Malaria Initiative —under the leadership of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention —has been a committed partner to the Ministry of Health and Zambia’s National Malaria Elimination Program. To date, the USG has invested $339 million dollars in lifesaving malaria programs in Zambia.
As we continue to battle the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, I want to take a moment to recognize and deeply thank the Zambian government, the National Malaria Elimination Program, the Global Fund, USAID’s implementing partners, and the dedicated health care workers who have worked vigilantly to sustain our life saving malaria interventions.
These teams tailored adaptations and mitigation measures to protect against COVID-19 while continuing lifesaving programs to protect millions of Zambians from malaria. Through our partnerships, since 2020 the USG procured and distributed over 2 million life-saving insecticide-treated bed nets; procured and delivered over 6.5 million malaria tests (kits??) and 9.5 million fast-acting medicines ; and over 2.7 million Zambians received protection from malaria through indoor-residual spraying or IRS.
These achievements simply would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of the women and men on the ground who safely delivered bed nets to homes, sprayed structures, and sensitized their fellow community members about malaria—people like Aliness Tembo from Petauke.
Ms. Tembo was one of hundreds of IRS seasonal workers who ensured millions of Zambians were protected from malaria. Often bicycling many kilometers to reach rural communities, she was committed to protecting families from malaria, while strictly adhering to COVID-19 mitigation measures. She was an IRS advocate in communities and modeled the COVID-19 Golden Rules: social distancing, wearing a face mask, washing hands frequently, and avoiding crowded spaces. Ms. Tembo is one of many who ensured we continue our momentum in the fight against malaria.
Indeed, the work of Aliness Tembo and the thousands of others who support the anti-malaria campaign each year are the reason eliminating malaria in Zambia is possible.
However, we all know that much work remains. We must continue to work together to ensure all families in Zambia are protected from this life-threatening disease– that even the most remote populations have access to community health workers and can receive prompt diagnosis and care. Despite significant malaria investments in Zambia, implementation gaps remain, and additional resources are needed to ensure those most vulnerable to malaria have access to the care they need.
At this unique time in our history, the U.S. government continues to stand by the people of Zambia. Our commitment to the health and wellbeing of Zambians is stronger than ever and we remain your steadfast partner in the ongoing fight against malaria and other life-threatening illnesses.
Honorable Minister and Distinguished Guests
We are proud to join all of you in celebrating World Malaria Day as we reaffirm our commitment to Drawing a Line for a Malaria Free Zambia. Thank you.