Remarks by Ambassador C. Patricia at the Catholic Relief Services Malaria Event, Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 7:00 PM Coral Beach Hotel

Salaam The U.S. Government and U.S. Embassy Banjul are pleased to host this event in partnership with the Catholic Relief Services, the Government of The Gambia, and the Global Fund.  I welcome you here this evening to continue the discussion that began this morning on our ongoing efforts to eliminate the scourge of malaria from The Gambia.

We are gathered here this evening to celebrate the significant achievements The Gambia has made in malaria reduction and to examine current efforts towards eliminating this disease in The Gambia.  Your presence here tonightis indicative of your commitment to a cause that is as essential to national progress as any other development indicator in determining national prosperity.

In the new Gambia that was ushered in this past January after more than two decades of tyranny and arbitrary allocation of resources, we have a government that is dedicated to addressing the issues that are really vital to The Gambia’s survival and prosperity.  We now live in a Gambia that is governed by a democratic, transparent and law-abiding government that is committed to working within existing legal frameworks with domestic and international organizations to eliminate obstacles to The Gambia’s economic and social development.

The U.S. government is committed to supporting the ideals of the new Gambian administration.  We are convinced that in a country like The Gambia, with a government like President Barrow’s, and with the right tools and strategies, malaria can be eliminated.

The war against malaria has been waged for many years now.  During the past decade, three major initiatives were launched to help control malaria:
        The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2002,
        The World Bank Malaria Booster Program in 2004, and
        The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative ( or PMI) in 2005.
These efforts led multilateral and bilateral donors to sharply increase funding for global malaria control and elimination from less than $100 million in 2000 to an estimated $2.7 billion in 2013.  This massive scale-up of malaria prevention and treatment measures over the last decade by this broad range of partners working in unison has produced remarkable results.

Successful malaria control has a dramatic impact on the health, productivity and well-being of people living in malaria risk areas.  Investments not only save lives, but also help advance progress towards other key development goals including increasing maternal and child survival, improving health of people living with HIV, reducing school absenteeism and fighting poverty.

Malaria prevention and control is a major U.S. foreign assistance objective which fully aligns with the U.S. Government’s vision of ending preventable child and maternal deaths and ending extreme poverty.  The U.S. Government has taken extraordinary steps to curb the spread of this preventable and curable disease, including partnerships with host country governments, the Global Fund, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank Booster Program for Malaria Control, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others.

The United States is the world’s largest donor to malaria control and elimination programs, contributing over 50 percent of all donor funding.  This funding is channeled through both international organizations such as the Global Fund, and local organizations involved in anti-malaria efforts.

The U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator has primary responsibility for oversight and coordination of all resources and international activities of the U.S. Government, related to combatting malaria.  The Global Malaria Coordinator ensures that operations and implementation research supported by PMI, by far the largest U.S. malaria program, closely complements the clinical and program research being undertaken across U.S. Government agencies.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the Malaria Coordinator on operational research priorities and is a key implementer of that research.  Similarly, the National Institutes of Health, CDC, and Department of Defense develop and test new malaria prevention and control tools, as well as train qualified epidemiologists, entomologists, and malaria researchers under those agencies’ research and training programs.  And USAID continues its longstanding support for malaria vaccine research and development and for antimalarial drug discovery and development.
It is encouraging to note that substantial progress has been made in delivering malaria prevention tools and providing treatment to those with confirmed malaria diagnoses.  Progress against malaria is one of development’s most impressive stories.  But the gains are fragile.  It is vital that our efforts are sustained and expanded through a combination of increased national and international political will, investment on the ground and on-going research and development to combat emerging threats, such as drug and insecticide resistance.

PMI, the President’s Malaria Initiative, is a major player in this arena, with a goal of eliminating malaria world wide by 2040-2050.  A recently released independent study of the initiative by economists from the University of North Carolina and Harvard University estimates that, since its launch in 2005 by U.S. President George W. Bush, PMI has saved the lives of nearly 2 million children in Africa.  U.S. aid through PMI achieved this remarkable result mostly through distribution of mosquito nets, house spraying and malaria treatment.

In The Gambia, with support from the Global Fund, CRS and the Government of The Gambia have employed the same tools as PMI to reduce malaria prevalence in The Gambia by 95 percent, from 4 percent in 2010 to 0.2 percent in 2014 and, we believe to as little as 0.1 percent or less today.  Going forward PMI’s strategies can help us win the war against malaria in The Gambia.  Specifically, we must:

•       Work to strengthen the capacity of national institutions, host country systems, and professionals to address the challenges of malaria control, building country ownership and sustainability;
•       Adopt and scale up new tools and strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness, have been recommended by WHO, and have been endorsed by government of The Gambia;
•       Support coordination of key partners at a global level – including multilateral and bilateral institutions, affected countries, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, private sector partners, and academia and research institutions, and ensure that investments are complementary;
•       Engage with stakeholders in other sectors – including education, agriculture, and commerce – to enhance our ability to achieve malaria control and elimination objectives;
•       Expand and leverage public-private partnerships to increase support for malaria control and elimination;
•       And conduct operational research that helps overcome implementation bottlenecks, tests promising new tools and approaches, contributes to the scale-up of malaria control activities, identifies local solutions to implementation challenges, and identifies the most cost-effective mix of proven interventions under different malaria transmission settings.

U.S. Embassy Banjul has a strong relationship with CRS and the Government of The Gambia based on a shared vision, mutual trust, and commitment to making a difference in the lives of the Gambian people.  This initiative is an opportunity for us to maximize our efforts and capacity, mobilize our resources, and improve and scale up our programs.  While malaria in The Gambia has been significantly reduced, especially among children under five and pregnant women, malaria transmission is still ongoing, particularly in the eastern part of The Gambia.

We need to mobilize more resources to complement current spending, invest even more in research, reevaluate our current approaches, and improve supply chain management to ensure uninterrupted supplies of medicines and other equipment.
U.S. Embassy Banjul, as part of its 2017-2020 integrated country strategy, will work closely with the Government of The Gambia and organizations like CRS to support initiatives toward full elimination of malaria in The Gambia.  The elimination of malaria throughout The Gambia is a vision that the U.S. Government shares with both the government and people of The Gambia, and with CRS.  While the U.S. Government works toward country-by-country elimination and eventual malaria eradication worldwide by 2040-2050, here in The Gambia, we believe a much faster process of elimination is within reach.

Your decision to join us this evening in celebrating achievements in reducing malaria in The Gambia is particularly encouraging, as it suggests that you recognize as we do the need for a holistic, comprehensive, whole of country and whole of sector effort.

I thank you once again for your presence here tonight and for your commitment.  And I sincerely thank CRS and its local leadership for this magnificent initiative.
We are winning the war against malaria in The Gambia, but close is not good enough.  It will require sustained commitment, effort, cooperation – and resources – to eliminate malaria in The Gambia.  I have no doubt that if we work together it can be done, and that it can be done sooner rather than later.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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