The World Health Organisation (WHO) has commended the African region for making significant progress in malaria control in the last five years.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, said malaria incidence and mortality rates had declined by 42 per cent and 66 per cent respectively between 2000 and 2015.
Moeti made the commendation in Kigali, Rwanda, while speaking at the First Africa Health Forum, launched by WHO, Africa and the Government of Rwanda.
She said for the first time, a malaria vaccine has been launched by the organisation offering partial protection for children, especially those vulnerable to the disease.
Moeti said domestic governments from the WHO African region contributed over $528 million to support the fight against the disease in 2015.
She said the number of adults and children newly infected with HIV in the region has also declined by 19 per cent in the last five years; from 1.63 million to 1.37 million.
According to her, the region is on the verge of eradicating polio; HIV treatment scale-up is continuing with an estimated 12.1 million people receiving anti retroviral therapy (ART) by the end of 2015.
The regional director noted that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era contributed to many of the successes in the fight against these diseases.
“By the end of 2015, maternal mortality in the Region fell by 45 per cent from the year 2000, and newborn deaths dropped by 38 per cent during the same period.
“Although there had been major improvements over the last decade, there are still critical health issues that need to be discussed and tackled in order to bring the 2063 vision of health and well being into reality.
“Africa has the advantage; as the world is getting older, our population is getting younger.
“There is so much potential to harness this vitality and energy to create health systems that suit all.
“We need to act now to safeguard the health of the youths by creating youth-friendly health services and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
“We want our youths to not just be beneficiaries of services, but to be with us at the decision-making table as we partner across sectors for a more prosperous, sustainable future for everyone in Africa,” Moeti said.