As a physician working for a multinational in Angola, I have been inspired by the integrated approach the company takes to address malaria. Having seen the way malaria impacts workers, their families and communities in sub-Saharan Africa
deaths have decreased by 45 percent. And right here in Africa, the number is closer to 50 percent, with eight countries that are on track to meet the WHO 2015 goal of reducing their malaria case incidence rates by 75 percent.
Despite this progress, malaria continues to kill more than 627,000 people each year, the majority of whom are children under the age of five. The disease also has broad repercussions for health and economic development, harming pregnant women and their infants, preventing children from attending and participating in school, and limiting adults’ economic potential and ability to invest in their families.
This week, on World Malaria Day, partners who have joined the fight against malaria will take stock of progress made and reflect on the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. While we should celebrate the gains we have made, we like improved drugs and vaccines.
Implementing an effort of this grand a scale requires ongoing collaboration and cooperation across the board to effectively leverage the expertise and resources of each partner. Perhaps one of the greatest opportunities we have is to fully engage the private sector.
As a physician working for a multinational in Angola, I have been inspired by the integrated approach the company takes to address malaria. Having seen the way malaria impacts workers, their families and communities in sub-Saharan Africa, we introduced a workforce malaria program and support for community malaria control efforts more than a decade ago. Our focus on the four ABCDs – Awareness, Bite prevention, Chemoprophylaxis and Diagnosis and early effective treatment – has been paramount to the effective control of malaria in ExxonMobil workplaces, the corporations can be agents of change across a spectrum of control efforts. These partnerships alone have helped distribute more than 13 million bed nets, provide close to 2 million malaria treatment doses, and train 355,000 health workers. When combined with other companies’ initiatives, these efforts translate into expanded impact where it is most needed.
As a community, we can build on these successes. Going forward, the global malaria community must remain steadfast in its commitment to leverage the resources of its partners and foster greater collaboration to expand the reach of these interventions. Together, we can reduce the burden of malaria – and build a more prosperous and healthy future across the continent.
Dr Setas-Ferreira is the Regional Advisor for Community and Public Health at the U.S. ExxonMobil Corporation