By Foday Moriba Conteh
In a bid to raise awareness on malaria in Sierra Leone, the National Malaria Control Program and Speak up Africa has on Thursday 6th February 2020 launched a new media coalition that will form part of the Pan-African Zero Malaria Starts with Me Movement to eliminate malaria in Sierra Leone. The launch took place at the Swiss Hotel in Freetown.
The aims and objectives of the Malaria Media Coalition are to seek energizing journalists to report on malaria and take an active role in the Zero Malaria Starts with Me Movement, provide support and share resources to aid reporting on malaria and creating a collaborative platform to drive engagements on malaria.
In his presentation, a member of Speak up Africa, James Wallen, disclosed that in 2014-2017 the Ministry of Health, Speak up Africa and PATH piloted the Zero Malaria Starts with Me in Senegal and in 2018 the campaign was endorsed by Africa Union leaders at the 31st Africa Union summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania, adding that to achieve that, the campaign aims to boost political will and promote private sector and community engagement strategies that are tailored to meet the unique challenges each country faces.
He said the Zero Malaria Starts with me Movement has been rolled-out across Africa, by the African Union Commission and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, noting that some countries have launched national Zero Malaria campaigns: Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
Underscoring the campaign’s pillars he said the campaign will use the following:
- Political Engagement: through political engagement the campaign aims to generate political commitment at the highest level of the State in order to eliminate malaria
- Private Sector Engagement: through private sector
engagement the campaign aims to mobilize the financial resources needed to end malaria once and for all in Africa
- Community Engagement: through community engagement the campaign aims to promote progress and encourage communities and individuals’ efforts
He said the National Malaria Control Program supported by Speak up Africa, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, and the African Union roll out of its Zero Malaria Starts with me campaign in Sierra Leone on April World Malaria Day 2019, adding that in Sierra Leone, the name of the campaign is translated into Krio as “Malaria E Don Wan Dae Na Mi Han”.
Dr. Samuel Smith, Director of Disease Control and Prevention in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation noted that this media coalition came at the right time as the fight to end malaria by 2030 continues to make a significant impact in the country but there is a need for a robust action in order to achieve this goal by the stipulated time.
He said with this media coalition launched it will increase the quality and quantity of malaria media coverage to drive increased action against the disease and strengthen the fight against malaria in the country and that media reporters are crucial in the fight against malaria, as they have the power to hold leaders accountable through their reporting of key issues like malaria.