This morning, the government of The Gambia will host an event alongside the U.S. Embassy; Catholic Relief Services (CRS); and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (The Global Fund) to celebrate the momentous achievement of The Gambia nearing the last mile to eliminate malaria.
President Adama Barrow will preside over the gathering.
According to an official statement through international investment and a strong, Gambian-led campaign, The Gambia is now seeing a very significant drop in the prevalence of malaria and new malaria infections, with a prevalence of only 0.2 percent, meaning the country now has a clear path to ‘no new cases’ of malaria by the year 2020.
“We are proud that The Gambia has made major strides in its fight against malaria,” said Saffie Lowe Ceesay, The Gambia’s health minister. “With the ongoing support of the international community, elimination of the disease is now within sight – a first for a sub-Saharan African country.”
In 2015, there were approximately 212 million cases of malaria worldwide. Nearly half a million people died, most of them children.
“Now is not the time to stop or even slow our work,” said Annemarie Reilly, CRS’ chief of staff and executive vice president of strategy and organizational development. “We know that the last mile will be the hardest, and that the disease can come back. But, with international support, we can make history.”
In The Gambia, all of the major stakeholders say that more international investment is needed to be able to fully eradicate the disease so it does not return.