The visiting Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has commended the Tanzanian government for progress made in the fight against malaria.
She stressed the need to intensify the efforts for Africa is to reduce morbidity and lower the infant mortality rate to 0.5 percent by 2020.
Accompanied by President Jakaya Kikwete, the Liberian President, known to many as ‘Superwoman’ made the statement yesterday in Dar es Salaam at the official opening of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) office in the country.
President Sirleaf said countries in the globe and Tanzania, in particular, are required to ensure free malaria zones by 2015 as outlined by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but in the face of progress made so far, additional time is needed to realise that will.
She noted the relations between the fight against malaria and the Abuja Declaration, which directs Heads of States to allocate 15 percent of their budget to the Ministry of Health.
“It’s the government and leaders’ commitment to bringing awareness to the community and people as a whole that will help the fight against malaria…” asserted the President.
Agreeing with his newly elected colleague, President Kikwete went on to elaborate the economic impact of malaria saying it retards growth and burdens the already stretched health care services in most African countries.
“In fact, malaria has been estimated to cost Africa at least USD12bn every year…. Despite these devastating effects of malaria, the scourge can be prevented, controlled and eventually eliminated…” he said.
President Kikwete, who is also the former ALMA chairperson, said many African countries have been able to scale up malaria interventions and reduce malaria related deaths and the social burden it engenders.
Minister of Health and ocial Welfare Dr Hussein Mwinyi applauded government’s initiatives towards fighting malaria citing examples as the distribution of free treated nets, undertaking indoor residual spraying operation, application of Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) and effective treatment for malaria through using Artemesinin Combination Therapy available in public Sand private health sectors.
President Sirleaf stopped for a visit at the University of Dar es Salaam where she called upon the African member states to utilise the African women’s potential.
“We have to make sure that key elements of women's social, economic and political participation are encouraged in an effort to build gender-equitable societies…,” she advised.
She explained that the MDGs are inter-dependent and that better health enables children to learn while gender equality is essential to the achievement of better health.
Meanwhile, the University of Dar es Salaam yesterday present President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the University of Dar es Salaam Golden Jubilee Award.
Speaking in the city yesterday UDSM Vice Chancellor Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, said President Sirleaf is one of the most accomplished persons in the most diverse spheres of life including academics, public finance, politics as well as international public service.
Mukandala acknowledged the academic achievements of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner noting that she has no less than three globally recognized accreditations including one from the United States’ prestigious Harvard Kennedy School of Government where she earned her Masters in Public Administration back in 1971.
He listed several of her leadership achievements as having served as Director of the United Nations Development Programme’s Regional Bureau for Africa and in the financial sector at both national and international levels including the World Bank, Citibank and served as Vice President for the African Regional Office in Nairobi and the Equator Bank.
Sirleaf’s political career has seen her serve her country as Assistant Minister of Finance (1972-1973), Minister of Finance (1979-1980), Senator for Montserrado County and head of the Governance Reform Commission, before becoming the President of the Republic in 2005, the first ever woman in modern Africa to assume the highest office of state.
During her time at the UN, she was one of the seven members of the International Panel of Eminent Persons formed in 1999 by the then OAU to investigate the genocide in Rwanda of 1994.
She was also one of the five Commission Chairs for the Inter Congolese Dialogue and one of the two international experts selected by UNIFEM to investigate and report on the effects of conflict on women and the role of women in peace building.
Mukandala referred to Sirleaf as an avid human rights advocate with a particular interest in the rights of children, women and persons at risk of discrimination. She has also obtained eight honorary doctorates from a number of distinguished academic institutions.
Forbes magazine named her as the 51st most powerful woman in the world in 2006. In 2010, Newsweek magazine listed her as one of the ten best leaders in the world, while Times counted her among the top ten female leaders in the world.
In 2005 she became the first being Africa’s first elected female Head of State in Africa and five years later the Economist called her ‘arguably the best president the country (Liberia) has ever had.