Pretoria, 8 July – IOM has welcomed the decision of Ministers of Health from Malaria-Endemic Countries in Southern Africa this week to adopt the Victoria Falls Declaration, in which they commit to eliminate and expand malaria control to hard-to-reach migrant and mobile communities.
This was the first high level meeting to discuss the issue of malaria in the context of migration and human mobility. The declaration was adopted by Ministers from Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as deputy ministers from South Africa, Mozambique and senior government officials from Swaziland and Kenya.
“We live in an era of unprecedented human mobility. Malaria is preventable and treatable, but the reality is that malaria remains a fatal disease that neither knows nor respects borders. As the world prepares for the post 2015 development agenda, it is imperative that migration and human mobility are included in the post 2015 health outcomes if we are to sustain our current achievements,” said IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing.
By adopting the Declaration, health ministers recognized that malaria continues to be an obstacle to economic progress, especially to the poorest of the poor around the world.
They also recognized that migrants still face barriers to access malaria treatment at different stages of the migration process and that if the status quo remains, gains in malaria control and elimination at national level will be unsustainable.
In addition, the ministers acknowledged that lack of data and poor health systems pose a challenge to malaria control in the region. They affirmed that there is need for strengthening operational research that will provide data/information for evidence-based planning and decision-making. The ministers also agreed to collaborate and strengthen existing cross border initiatives to combat malaria.
The Victoria Falls Declaration includes a ten-point action plan to put in place measures to sustain the good work on malaria control and elimination until all targets are met.
The plan includes a commitment in the form of a statement by health leaders to address malaria in the context of migration and human mobility. Through this statement, health leaders – including the private sector and development partners – committed to address the impact of migration and human mobility on malaria control and its elimination, and to jointly address the challenges in providing adequate and inclusive health services to cross-border, mobile and migrant populations.