PRIME Minister Rick Hou has joined Commonwealth Leaders around the world in advocating against Malaria by renewing the pledge to fight it.
Hou addressed the Malaria Summit London at the 8 Northumberland Avenue in a meeting that was attended by a range of heads of state as well as the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York and Bill Gates – Microsoft founder, philanthropist and co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In his remarks during the occasion, Hou said it is an historic occasion in the fight against malaria in the Pacific, a region encompassing an area larger than China.
The Prime Minister was also joined by two Melanesian prime ministers – Peter O’Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, Prime Minister of Vanuatu.
“I am delighted to be joined here by my two Melanesian brothers. As leaders of some of the blue continents’ most populous nations, we have come here together to signal our unwavering commitment to malaria elimination. And, to endorse the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance Roadmap,” he told the Summit.
Hou said in doing so, Solomon Islands has also pledged to join a powerful movement of now 21 heads of government; all united behind a common goal – to eliminate malaria from the Asia Pacific by 2030.
“Malaria negatively effects the macroeconomic performance of our countries. Growth rates of GDP per capita in malaria-endemic countries are significantly lower than those without malaria. It can trap the most disadvantaged in a spiral of sickness, and poverty,” Hou told the Summit.
Hou also informed the Summit that over the last two decades the Solomon Islands has achieved dramatic reductions in malaria.
Despite this, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea account for 92 percent of all cases in the WHO western Pacific region.
“Over the past decade, the Government of Solomon Islands has allocated 12 percent of our budget to the health sector. We are now showing stronger leadership than ever on malaria with a total of SBD$23 million of investment in 2018,” he said.
The Prime Minister said Solomon Islands is also encouraged by the new partnership between the Global Fund and the Asian Development Bank.
He said these giants are now jointly working with countries to support sustainable financing.
“There is much to do. But, with our shared and renewed commitment, and with your support, we have no doubt we can eliminate this disease from Melanesia, and ultimately the world, for good,” he said.
Bill Gates on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who has convened the summit and led the world in efforts to eradicate the disease, urged Commonwealth leaders to play their part.
“The commitments made today, from the UK, country leadership and the private sector, show that the world is ready to beat malaria.
“It’s a disease that is preventable, treatable and ultimately beatable, but progress against malaria is not inevitable.
“We hope today marks a turning point against the disease, and that the Commonwealth takes a leading role in saving lives and ending malaria for good.”
Prince Charles used his speech at the summit to urge leaders to think about how efforts to fight malaria go hand in hand with the guardianship of the planet.
“We know that tropical deforestation and climate change are greatly complicating our attempts to eliminate malaria but, critically, they also threaten and reduce biodiversity, which holds some of the keys to a solution,” he said.
A total of £2.9bn was pledged to fight the disease which included £1.45bn from countries affected by malaria, £700m from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and £160m from the UK government.