The East and West Africa Malaria Task Force, launched four years ago, has matured into a robust collaboration between East and West African countries and the United States. More than 60 senior medical representatives from member states met in Bujumbura, Burundi, on August 25 for the opening ceremonies of the Task Force conference.
As part of the U.S. effort to eradicate malaria on the African continent, in Burundi alone the United States has provided more than $40 million through USAID to help build capacity of Burundi's malaria prevention and control program. “Malaria affects productivity and the ability of troops to fight during peace-keeping operations,” said Ambassador Liberi, U.S. Ambassador to Burundi. Ninety percent of malaria deaths in 2010 were recorded in Africa.
The United States Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center-Global Emerging Infection Surveillance and Response System (AFHSC-GEIS) funded the meeting, which was coordinated by U.S. Africa Command. “The hard work and accomplishments of both the East and the West African Malaria task forces are now being integrated into a combined, synergistic effort against this devastating infectious disease,” stated U.S. Army Colonel James F. Cummings, Director of GEIS at AFHSC. ”We stand proudly with our East and West African partners to defeat the scourge that is malaria.”
“The meeting is very important because malaria impacts half of the countries in the world. Burundi is a key member of the peace-keeping process in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as are many countries in East and West Africa,” said Ambassador Liberi. The United States is committed to supporting global efforts against the deadly disease by contributing about one-third of the funding to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM).
“This meeting is important because it allows us to be here to address ways of malaria prevention and ways of controlling malaria infection,” said Kenya’s Brigadier General Kristopher Osirarrumm, a member of the East Africa Malaria Task Force.
“At U.S. Africa Command, we share the belief that a safe, stable and secure Africa is in everyone’s best interest,” said Navy Captain David Weiss, AFRICOM Command Surgeon. “I truly believe that a regional approach to a common problem is the most effective form of engagement and the most efficient way to learn. This week, we meet to share experiences, knowledge and best practices with each other.”
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