19 April 2018
Research intern Dr Ndifanji Namacha presented at the Malaria Summit in London on 18 April 2018 in front of Heads of Government and world leaders in malaria control efforts, representing the Commonwealth Youth Health Network to advocate for malaria control and elimination efforts. Ndifanji Namacha is an assistant lecturer in Public Health at COM, and as part of that role is undertaking a voluntary research internship with the malaria group.
Ndifanji during her key note speech shared her story of being born in Malawi a Malaria endemic country, her medical education and personal experience with malaria, her career as a Malaria researcher and also called upon the leaders for accountability and sustainability of the commitments which were made to eliminate malaria. The young researcher and health advocate further went on to call upon all different sectors to involve the youth in their efforts to eliminate Malaria; ‘the youth of this generation have never known a world without malaria and we can’t talk about malaria elimination whilst excluding the youth in these efforts.’
The Malaria Summit London 2018 inspired new and renewed leadership and energy in the fight to end malaria and featured significant political leadership and resourcing commitments from government, philanthropists, private sector companies and international organizations -worth over $4.1 Billion. The Summit was organized by Malaria No More UK.
During the event, Ndifanji shared the podium with prominent leaders involved in the #ReadyToBeat# #MalariaMustDie#, including Bill Gates, Prince of Wales, the UN Special Envoy on Youth (Jayathma Wickamanayake), Director-General WHO (Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus), Executive Director, Malaria No More UK (James Whiting), 12 Heads of State and Government, 2 Vice Presidents and Senior Ministers from 19 Commonwealth Countries.
Malawi was amongst the countries who made a government commitment to beat Malawi. The President of Malawi HE Prof Arthur Peter Muntharika committed to reduce malaria incidence and deaths by at least 50% by 2022 and to eliminate malaria entirely from the country by 2028.
Ndifanji called up the commonwealth to follow the example of Sri Lanka where malaria has been eliminated and to no longer consider malaria as a normal. She further said beating malaria will involve commitment not just from the political leaders but also from the grassroots. She was excited as a researcher to hear about all the innovations that are in the pipeline in the efforts to beat malaria such as second generation bed nets, new RDTs which are highly sensitive and can detect malaria in people who aren’t sick and don’t know are a reservoir for the parasite, new drugs in the pipelines to address resistance and also the innovations to address outdoor biting.
The event witnessed financial commitment Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Goodbye Malaria, GSK, M2030 and Novartis amongst many others.
Ndifanji said, ‘I am very grateful to Malaria No More UK for the opportunity to participate in a high-profile Malaria Summit as a youth delegate. It was a great platform to not only share our scientific stories but also remember than malaria is personal and hits close to each and every one of us and is a killer which shouldn’t be the norm. The Summit also offered a great opportunity for networking and pitching the MLW Malaria Epidemiology group to the various stakeholders.’