LOMÉ – To commemorate World Malaria Day, the pan-African Group Ecobank, through its Ecobank Foundation, reaffirmed its commitment to fighting malaria through its ongoing 2020 partnership with Speak Up Africa, a non-profit advocacy organisation, and the RBM Partnership. Through the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative (ZMBLI), now operational in Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Uganda, the Group has already raised nearly US$500,000 (about UGX. 1,777,489,500) and has engaged 37 local businesses.
ZMBLI demonstrates the bank’s deep commitment to leverage its expertise and network of clients and partners to address the critical public health challenge of malaria. The initiative aims to engage the private sector in advocacy and fundraising to help increase both political will and the resources for actions to eliminate malaria in Africa for good.
Malaria remains a major cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa, causing nearly 602,000 deaths in 2020, of which 80% were children aged under 5. In the same year, almost 34% of pregnant women suffered from malaria, resulting in 819,000 babies being born with a higher risk of developing long-term health problems.
Malaria is also a socio-economic challenge. According to a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine, malaria is responsible for Africa losing 4.3 billion working days, 1.5 billion school days, and also costs the continent an estimated US$12 billion per year. A single episode of malaria costs a family an average of US$9, or 3% of their average annual income. The World Bank estimates that 100 million people are pushed into poverty because of catastrophic healthcare costs.
In addition to being a health necessity, the Ecobank Foundation sees the fight against malaria as a critical economic issue for African countries requiring strong private sector engagement. It is vital to increase the participation of the private sector to mobilise additional partners and resources to achieve social objectives. This is why ZMBLI is one of the Ecobank Foundation’s flagship programmes.
Reflecting on this initiative, Elisa Desbordes-Cissé, Chief Operating Officer of the Ecobank Foundation, said: “Tragically malaria remains a major human and economic burden, and the Ecobank Foundation is determined to do all it can to eradicate this awful disease throughout Africa, thereby improving the lives of Africans. We are proud to be leading the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative in partnership with Speak Up Africa and to have already succeeded in mobilising 37 businesses in the fight against malaria. Our contribution of nearly US$500,000, which helped to launch the programme in Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Uganda, demonstrates our strong commitment to enhancing social and economic development in these countries.”