World Mosquito Day: How the Private Sector is Tackling Malaria in Africa

Why do mosquitoes matter?

Sir Ronald Ross discovered the malaria parasite while dissecting a mosquito on August 20, 1897. Now, August 20th is known as World Mosquito Day to commemorate this discovery.

Mosquitoes don’t only spread malaria, but other deadly diseases like yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, Zika, West Nile virus, lymphatic filariasis and more. 

Despite recent progress in controlling mosquito-borne diseases, the mosquito remains the deadliest animal in the world to humans, being responsible for over a million deaths each year through the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. 

Current challenges to mosquito control include insecticide resistance, invasion of exotic species, sustainability of interventions, entomological surveillance & monitoring, climate change, lack of quality data, and challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The role of the private sector

Without an engaged and invested private sector, Africa will be unable to address the problem of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. Annually, malaria causes more than 400,000 deaths a year, mostly in children. 

Private sector investment in malaria control is especially vital in Africa, where the problem with malaria is severe and public sector funding for malaria control is insufficient. 

The private sector’s resources, reach, innovation, leadership, efficiency and adaptability is needed for malaria control efforts to succeed. COVID-19 has reinforced the need for private sector engagement by overburdening health systems, and diverting public health and international aid funding. 

COVID-19 also showed that through strengthening health systems, supporting community health workers, improving supply chains, and collective action, we can stand up to health threats and prepare for future ones. 

The Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA) works to channel the collective force and voice of the private sector to drive impact on malaria in Africa. The private sector supports a broad range of integrated approaches to controlling mosquitoes and eliminating malaria. 

Implementing workforce & community initiatives 

Businesses support innovative malaria prevention, control and treatment activities, directly reducing the spread of malaria within their workforces and the communities in which they operate. This includes indoor residual spraying (IRS), bed net distribution, educational initiatives and more. 

Developing innovative new medicines & tools

We need innovative new tools that can help stop the spread of malaria and reduce malaria mortality in people already infected. For example, the bed net is an indispensable tool for preventing the spread of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases; worldwide, insecticide-treated bed nets were responsible for two-thirds of the seven million lives saved from malaria between 2000 and 2015. 

The private sector is on the cutting edge of developing key tools in the fight against malaria, including bed nets, insecticides & medicines. They support ingenious research to inform the development of future malaria control tools and strategies. The private sector also advocates for the necessary regulations and partnerships that support the scaling-up and adoption of new technologies from the private sector, so that these tools end up in the hands of the right people at the right time. 

Strengthening health systems & supply chains 

Businesses have worked to build health systems through investment in training, equipping community health workers to screen for malaria, linking patients to facility care and more. 

The private sector also focuses on strengthening supply chains, for example ensuring bed nets are produced and delivered in time with mass distribution campaigns. This aspect has been especially important given disruptions caused by COVID-19. 

Fostering cross-sector partnerships to increase resources for the fight against malaria

Engagement between business and malaria-focused government and civil society stakeholders is vital, leading to cross-sector partnerships that can achieve more at a greater scale than any sector can achieve alone. 

Businesses also use their influence to galvanize more partners to invest in the fight against malaria in Africa, and to foster political will to increase investment in malaria and health systems. 

Information, education & communications to raise awareness of malaria prevention

Businesses use their platforms to bring more awareness of how individuals can stop the spread of malaria. The private sector also supports efforts to empower individuals and local groups to take ownership of the local malaria response with the right knowledge and tools. 

During COVID-19, these programs needed to adapt to disruptions, especially to initiatives that rely on in-person interactions, and to educate people about the similarities and differences between malaria and COVID-19. 

About CAMA

CAMA is a group of leading companies at the forefront of the private sector response to malaria in Africa, including Access Bank, Chevron, Aliko Dangote Foundation, ExxonMobil, Bayer, Nigerian Breweries, Nigeria LNG, and Vestergaard. A GBCHealth-led initiative, CAMA is a platform for the private sector to maximize its impact in the fight against malaria. 

In a virtual dialogue series earlier this year, CAMA came together with malaria leaders to discuss the latest in mosquito control. The key takeaways that emerged from the series discourse include the importance of health systems strengthening, creating an environment that facilitates innovation, fostering political will, and creating a stronger narrative for the story of malaria.

CAMA leads the End Malaria Project, which will catalyze the private sector’s support of malaria control efforts to save at least 50,000 lives by 2023. CAMA also works closely with the Nigeria National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) to coordinate the private sector in support of the government’s malaria control efforts. 

To identify examples of good practices for companies operating in malaria-endemic areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, CAMA is publishing a series of case studies that will examine the impact of the pandemic on organization’s malaria elimination efforts. This is part of CAMA’s ongoing support of private sector malaria programs to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive approach towards malaria control. 

Africa needs the collective strength of the private sector more than ever to fight malaria. Through CAMA, businesses can contribute their innovations and skills to malaria partnerships, share knowledge with leaders in the field, access cutting-edge resources, advocate for private sector engagement in malaria, and more.

Controlling, and ultimately eliminating, mosquito-borne diseases including malaria would bring tremendous health, social, and economic benefits to people in sub-Saharan Africa and around the globe. 

To learn more, get in touch with us at cama@gbchealth.org

Matt RomneyWorld Mosquito Day: How the Private Sector is Tackling Malaria in Africa