Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of an infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. In 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries, an increase of 5 million cases over 2015. Malaria deaths reached 445,000 in 2016, a similar number 446,000 to 2015.
The WHO African region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2016, the region was home to 90% of malaria cases and 91% of malaria deaths. Nigeria suffers the world’s greatest malaria burden, with approximately 51 million cases and 207,000 deaths reported annually (approximately 30% of the total malaria burden in Africa), while 97% of the total population (approximately 173 million) is at risk of infection.
Today, leading public and private sector organisations are coming together to dedicate resources and contribute efforts to fight against this deadly disease. Malaria is definitely at the forefront of global investments in health. Over the years, Access Bank has contributed significantly to the fight against malaria. In 2010, the Banks SME Workplace Policy Programme training enhanced the capacity of 250 SMEs to develop Workplace policies and scale- up health programmes addressing multiple health challenges including malaria. The Bank also contributed US$1 million to fund Global Fund’s ‘Gift from Africa’ project, which was used to implement various strategic projects to combat Malaria amongst other diseases across Africa.
In 2016, the Bank launched the Malaria-to-Zero initiative aimed at scaling-up the impact of national malaria interventions by galvanising private sector resources to meet the funding gap required to eliminate malaria in Nigeria by 2030. So far, through this initiative, over 30,000 Long Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs) have been distributed to communities and primary health centres, with over 4,537 pregnant women reached, and 1,032,000 people sensitised on malaria, its prevention and management.
Furthermore, Access Bank serves as the co-Chair of Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa, a group of private sector organisations with business interests in Africa who pool efforts to combat malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. The Bank is also a member of the Global Business Coalition on Health (GBC Health) – a coalition of more than 230 companies working to improve the health of their workforces and communities around the world, with focus areas including: reducing maternal, new-born and child mortality, and advancing efforts for combatting HIV, TB and malaria.
As part of the global efforts to fight malaria and its impact in communities, on the 20th of August every year, the world comes together to commemorate World Mosquito Day. The day is commemorated and celebrated to mark the historic discovery that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans made by British doctor Sir Ronald Ross. World Mosquito Day aims to bring awareness to the people from all over the world about the causes of malaria disease, its effects, preventive measures and help in raising funds for research related on how to cure malaria, an infectious disease.
Access Bank as part of its commitment to improving the health of communities, joined the world on this global initiative, partnering with the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA), GBC Health and HACEY Health Initiative to commemorate the WMD 2018 through the implementation of strategic engagement programs to address malaria in Nigeria.
These engagements included community awareness programs aimed at sensitising the general public on malaria, its prevention and management; distribution of Long-Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLINs) across underserved communities in western Nigeria; and a strategic awareness creation campaign providing education on Malaria. As part of this initiative, a short video documentary on malaria aimed at educating people on challenges and actions to end malaria across Africa was distributed across various online and traditional media platforms; media interviews to educate the general public on mosquitoes and its ties to malaria were executed across different locations nation-wide; a massive awareness campaign was executed on social media reaching thousands of Nigerians with emotive and educative information, education and communication materials. Also, the Bank’s Malaria to Zero initiative joined CAMA to launch the #End Malaria campaign across African countries. Through this initiative, over 15,000 LLINs were distributed in underserved communities, and over 880,000 lives were reached and sensitised on malaria and the strategic steps to take to eliminate it.
Speaking on this initiative, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan explained that “according to the World Malaria Report 2017, the global response to malaria is at a crossroads. After an unprecedented period of success in malaria control, progress has stalled and the current pace is insufficient to achieve the 2020 milestones of the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030. We must therefore increase our efforts and scale-up strategic interventions as the private sector – working hand-in-hand with stakeholders in the public sector to increase our impacts locally in order to contribute significantly to the global progress on malaria elimination”.
Access Bank as a leading financial institution driving sustainable development in Africa and across the world continues to show its commitment to driving good health and well-being for all, through its strategic and innovative partnerships, investments, interventions and initiatives aimed at scaling-up impact and creating a truly healthy and sustainable community.