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Kenyan Olympic champions Eliud Kipchoge and Faith Kipyegon have joined a stellar cast of global celebrities in a campaign that seeks to mount pressure on world leaders to improve efforts in combating malaria.

The campaign, Draw the Line Against Malaria, is part of the Zero Malaria Starts With Me (ZMSWM) movement that engages political leaders, and mobilises funds and resources to enhance efforts against malaria across the African continent.

It has the backing of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria—the global platform for coordinated action against the disease—and the African Union Commission, and aims at ridding Africa of Malaria by 2030.

Kipchoge and Kipyegon along with other global personalities, scientists, and activists, will appear in the campaign film set to be released on May 28 at the MTV Africa Day concert.

Other stars on the cast include retired English footballer David Beckham, FC Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nigerian Afro-pop singer Yemi Alade, and South African TV presenter Bonang Matheba.

As Zero Malaria Ambassadors, Kipchoge and Kipyegon will spearhead discussions on combating malaria in Kenya and across the globe, and participate in mobilising funds to end malaria-related deaths.

“In the past, suffering from malaria has stopped me from running. Today, over 1,000 children in Africa will die from the disease. Malaria is stealing their futures. But this is a human problem that we can solve because despite the challenges no human is limited,” said Kipchoge.

“We are calling on leaders to recommit to ending malaria at the Kigali Summit and later this year at the Global Fund Replenishment conference by contributing at least $18 billion to achieve zero malaria within a generation.”

Kipyegon said, “I’m proud to join this incredible campaign because I want to see an end to malaria, a disease of deep injustice particularly as it affects the world’s poorest people, especially for women and girls.”

“This gives me great hope – I want my daughter to grow up and see the day when we have zero malaria in Kenya,” she added.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, has hailed the initiative, saying it is instrumental in the global fight against malaria. In 2020, the disease caused about 627,000 deaths, 95 percent of which are reported in Africa.

“Draw The Line provides a platform for Africa’s most powerful narrators to change this trajectory, disrupt political apathy, and lead the fight to end this treatable and preventable disease which kills a child nearly every minute,” Dr Tedros said.

As the campaign now ventures into a global rally to raise funds for fighting malaria, Dr Corine Karema, the Interim Chief Executive of RBM Partnership to End Malaria, emphasised the importance of the funds in the journey towards zero malaria.

“This year, it is vital that we see a fully replenished Global Fund to get back on track and accelerate the malaria response to end this disease and strengthen health systems, creating a safer, healthier and more equal world for all,” she said.

RBM Partnership to End Malaria estimates that investing $18 billion in the anti-malaria fight, through the Global Fund, will reduce malaria-related deaths by at least 62 percent by 2026. - VINCENT OWINO, The EastAfrican


Fistula survivors in Tanzania who faced social discrimination have a glimmer of hope thanks to improved care for childbirth defects and widespread awareness campaigns that have helped dispel myths about the disease.

“I was a laughing stock in my community, I could hardly talk to my neighbor but I am glad after a successful operational, live a normal life.” said 21-year-old Esther Mwaibale, a resident of Kigoma, who suffered obstetric fistula after giving birth.

Obstetric fistula is caused by prolonged and complicated labor without timely medical intervention. Doctors said it often affects young girls, whose bodies are not yet fully developed.

Affected women are unable to control their flow of urine, feces, and blood. If not treated, patients may not give birth to another healthy baby.

Women with obstetric fistula are often abandoned by their husbands, rejected by their communities, and forced to live in solitude and shame.

But since the government launched a National Fistula Program two decades ago, it has helped raise awareness about prevention and treatment among thousands of women across the country, according to health authorities.

The campaign also marks May 23 International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.

Problem under control, free treatment

Minister for Health Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu, said the fistula problem which has for long been affecting poor women who often fail to get the right treatment is under control.

“The government is determined to provide the best care to women and girls to overcome this problem that often leaves sufferers in social isolation and shame,” Mwalimu told Anadolu Agency.

She said fistula can be prevented with proper maternal care, access to medical facilities, and trained practitioners with a 90% success rate.

“We are pleased to see more women with fistula are coming forward to be treated and the society is more enlightened,” said Mwalimu.

She said hospitals nationwide have been instructed to routinely run special clinics to raise communities’ awareness about the dangers of fistula.

According to the UN Population Fund, there are almost 3,000 cases of obstetric fistula in Tanzania annually.

Officials recognize that living in rural areas can be deadly for pregnant women and very young children due to the shortage of doctors and the distance to a health facility.

To relieve survivors, the government has instructed public hospitals to give free treatment to fistula patients seeking treatment.

While health services for pregnant women are free in Tanzania, observers said poor women in rural areas are still facing hurdles to access treatment due to logistical problems.

Significant strides

While the country has made significant progress toward improving health services, major infrastructural challenges remain, including getting health workers to rural areas, which have just 9% of the country’s doctors and 28% of its workforce, according to the Service Delivery Indicators 2016 report commissioned by the World Bank.

Tanzania’s maternal mortality rate is very high at 432 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the report.

Resting on her bed, Kalunde Michael recalls the suffering she endured two months ago when she had to give birth on a cold-tiled floor outside the Njombe district hospital.

“I don’t want to remember that day. The water had broken the moment I arrived at the hospital,” she told Anadolu Agency.

The 35-year-old farmer from the village of Lunyanywi in the southern highlands suffered childbirth-related complications that not only caused an obstetric fistula, but she also lost her child hours after giving birth.

“I was leaking urine. I hardly felt the urge to relieve myself,” she said. “I often find myself smeared with feces, it was very embarrassing.”

Michael blames her problems on lack of transport and the distance to the hospital. “My baby would probably have survived if I had received urgent medical attention,” she said.

Michael, who has recovered from a successful reconstruction operation in Njombe, is one of many rural women who suffer due to a lack of specialized treatment.

While giving birth to her fifth child, Jodet Kulwa who lives on Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria, suffered 24 hours of obstructed labor.

Because her home is far from the nearest health clinic, she struggled until she could get to a district hospital in Nansio.

By the time she was taken to the cesarean section, her baby was no longer alive. But it was not the end of her troubles.

Fortunately, Kulwa’s story took a positive turn as she learned about an obstetric fistula repair project at the Bugando Referral hospital in the northern Mwanza and received the care she needed to recover.

“I thank God I am alive today. To me, it feels like a miracle,” she said. - Kizito Makoye, Anadolu Agency


Cholera has killed one person and infected another 30 in South Sudan, in the first resurgence of the illness since the cholera outbreak of 2017, the South Sudan Ministry of Health said in a statement late Saturday.

"The Ministry of Health would like to inform the public that the cholera outbreak has been declared in Rubkona county, Unity State," the statement added. - CGTN

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