ADDIS ABABA, African nations have been urged to renew their commitment and strengthen instruments to attain a malaria-free Africa by 2030 as the disease is costing it 12 billion US dollars a year currently.

In a special briefing held here Friday, ahead of the 30th AU Summit taking place on Sunday and Monday, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat said malaria was estimated to rob the continent of 12 billion USD a year in lost productivity, investments and in associated health care costs.

It is therefore critical that we sustain the political commitment, as articulated in our Continental Agenda 2063, to eliminate malaria in Africa by 2030, through increased domestic financing, increased access to life-saving malaria interventions, as well as more robust health systems, said Mahamat.

Senior health, finance and foreign affairs officials from across the continent were briefed on the latest findings from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Malaria Report 2017, signalling that, for the first time in more than a decade, progress against malaria on the African continent, which accounts for almost 90 per cent of the global malaria burden, had stalled.

African leaders have committed to eliminating malaria by 2030, as articulated in the Continental Development Agenda 2063. Malaria, a treatable and preventable disease, already costs the African continent’s economy 1.3 per cent of lost annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth, an earlier report has shown.

According to the WHO Report 2017, progress across Africa has been uneven, putting at risk the tremendous progress to-date and African leaders’ collective ambition to end the disease. It noted that while some African countries have seen a greater than 20 per cent increase in malaria cases and deaths since 2016, others are showing that beating malaria is possible.

Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, Dr Pedro Alonso, said that in 2016, just 15 countries carried most of the global malaria burden, together accounting for 80 per cent of all malaria cases and deaths. All but one of these countries are in Africa. The report sends a clear warning that we have stopped making progress and that, without urgent action, we risk going backwards, said Dr Alonso.