Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has appealed to the global community not to allow the fight against COVID-19 interfere with efforts to eradicate malaria, polio, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases in Africa.
Kenyatta who spoke on Monday evening in Nairobi during this year’s End Malaria Annual Council meeting convened virtually by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said success stories and lessons from the global COVID-19 response should be harnessed and applied in the battle against these diseases to hasten their eradication.
“Even as we face current challenges (COVID-19), it shouldn’t be at the expense of pulling back on the progress that we have made in other areas such as malaria and polio,” he said in a statement issued on Tuesday after the meeting.
Kenyatta said the fight against malaria on the African continent was witnessing less interest from developed nations and multilateral partners as the countries and agencies redirect scarce resources to the more pressing COVID-19 pandemic.
He urged African governments to apply information sharing and pooling of resources as seen during the continental COVID-19 response to the fight against malaria.
“By pulling together as a continent to fight the COVID-19 situation, we have found that we are much better able to deal with the scenario through greater sharing of information but also of pooling resources…this is something that we’ve learnt from COVID-19 that we can translate into our malaria agenda,” he said.
The president, who is the current chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), reiterated that resource constraints brought about by COVID-19 risks rolling back the progress made in the fight against malaria.
He advocated for greater application of information technology in the fight against malaria, saying digitization had greatly assisted the fight against COVID-19.
Kenyatta said businesses hold the greatest potential to fill the resource gap occasioned by COVID-19.
The Kenyan leader also lobbied for greater involvement of the youth in the anti-malaria war, saying young people have the eagerness, stamina and innovativeness to sustain the fight.