Dar es Salaam. In 2009, Eight countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) formed an unprecedented partnership to collaborate at a regional level towards one common goal: achievement of malaria elimination. In 2019, these countries celebrate a decade of working together to address challenges in malaria elimination that go beyond the scope of each individual country. The Ministries of Health of the Governments of Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe collaborate at technical and policy levels throughout the year through the E8 platform to fast-track progress towards attainment of malaria elimination by 2030. In November 2019, all sixteen SADC Ministers of Health and Ministers Responsible for HIV and AIDS convened in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for the annual SADC Ministers of Health meeting. This was also an opportunity for the E8 Ministers and Senior Officials to commemorate their ten-year anniversary during an evening cocktail event hosted at the Hyatt Regency on 6 November 2019.
The celebratory event was opened by the E8 Ambassador and former Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Richard Nchabi Kamwi. In his opening remarks, he reflected on the moment of great significance in 2009, when eight Ministers of Health realized one of their common enemies, malaria, was also one of their greatest common goals to achieve malaria elimination for the southern African region. He continued, “This was a moment of great foresight, a moment of hope that our countries and our continent can, and will, be free of the death and devastation from malaria. This was a moment to determine a legacy of not one country, but a legacy of eight nations, to put aside our differences and pioneer a regional partnership leading to the transformation of lives of generations to come.”
The current Chair of the E8 Initiative, Hon. Dr. Obadiah Moyo, Minister of Health and Child Welfare for Zimbabwe, expressed profound appreciation for the dynamic partnerships’ achievements in remarks read on his behalf by Hon. Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services. The E8 was hailed as a model for sub-regional collaboration in Africa and the rest of the globe because of the highly interconnected SADC region, it is impossible for one country to eliminate malaria on its own. Dr. Shangula further highlighted, “The E8 initiative supports its member states to coordinate their malaria elimination efforts through; harmonized strategy and implementation; development of regional resources; developing capacity in special skills; and in monitoring and evaluation, as it relates to the regional strategies and commitments. We track progress in these areas through our very own annual SADC Malaria Elimination Eight Scorecard.” He highlighted a few of the E8 crowning moments from the past ten years:
- The development of a joint, costed business blueprint for elimination – The Malaria Elimination Eight Acceleration Plan 2018-2020
- Spearheading a Declaration at the Minister of Health level that was signed by all 16 SADC Heads of State and Government, that binds all countries in SADC to work together until all countries are certified as malaria free by 2030 – The Windhoek Declaration
- Improved regional disease intelligence by pooling expertise and sharing data from the eight countries to galvanize an evidence-based regional response
- Supporting the containment of cross-border transmission and importation of parasites through the deployment of cross border clinics that actively test and treat for malaria
- Mobilizing over 40 million USD in additional resources for a joint response to elimination
The E8 and SADC have and continue to demonstrate leadership to the SADC and international communities that malaria elimination, and indeed eradication, is possible in our lifetime.