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Comic Relief and GSK

The Fight Continues


The Fight Continues

In March this year, alongside our friends at the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, we organised a short event series bringing together leading politicians, health officials and activists to tackle tough questions about the struggle to end malaria.

One thing has really stuck with me since that event. Something that nicely captures what we have tried to achieve through our partnership with GSK. Jennifer El-Duah, a young woman, scientist and activist from Ghana opened her remarks by saying, “for today’s leaders it might be too late to see the end of the malaria fight, but for us young people it is only the beginning”.

Jennifer was part of the Youth Leaders for Health network. Alongside her peers from Ghana, Tanzania and Sierra Leone, she has been using her voice to push for lasting change. From taking twitter by storm with ‘The Beat Continues’ campaign to influencing African Union political communiques and meeting with senior politicians, this group of young leaders have been inspirational.

Inspiring change makers

Through our partnership with GSK, we wanted to help inspire a new generation of advocates like Jennifer who are campaigning for change, either in their communities or with leaders on the national or international stage.

Through Zero Malaria Starts With Me, an African-led movement set up to rid the continent of malaria, we have seen everyone from village leaders to musicians, mayors, business leaders, journalists, footballers, presidents, parliamentarians and frontline health workers use their voice to call for action. If you haven’t already, do check out Nigerian artist Láolú Senbanjo’s brilliantly creative new campaign action, and add your voice to this growing movement alongside Eliud Kipchoge, Omotola J Ekeinde and Siya Kolisi.

In Sierra Leone, where memories of the devastating 2014 Ebola crisis are still fresh in people’s minds, we worked with Mohammed, a community journalist, to help spread the word about malaria treatment and prevention. Mohammed is determined to be a part of the fight to beat malaria in his country and stop the next generation of children going through what he did.

In Tanzania, where parliamentarians wanted to easily access better malaria data, we worked with the African Leaders Malaria Alliance to develop a mobile app so legislators could access ALMA’s ground-breaking scorecard data on a smart phone.

Hopeful for the future

Even before the pandemic, despite impressive gains since the turn of the century, progress tackling malaria had worryingly stalled. In some places it had even reversed. Last year’s ‘World Malaria Report’ warned that whilst there was a small reduction in malaria deaths globally in 2019, there was an increase in cases, which reached nearly 230 million.

Yet despite these enormous challenges, I am optimistic. Communities around the world are standing up and calling on their leaders to step up the fight for better health and an end to malaria. The desire and energy we have seen through this partnership - from passionate mayors and health ministers, to young campaigners and business leaders – gives me huge hope that malaria can be ended within a generation. The fight continues.

Blog by Ben, Senior Advocacy Lead, Comic Relief.

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Comic Relief is the operating name of Charity Projects, a registered charity in England and Wales (326568) and Scotland (SC039730), which is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (01806414). Registered address: 1st Floor, 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP.