WorldStage Newsonline– The former President of Liberia and the Co-Chair, End Malaria Council and Founder, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has tasked the Federal Government of Nigeria on the need to engage the girl child in the fight against malaria.
Speaking during a virtual event to celebrate the international girl child, organized by the RBM partnership to end Malaria, she said that the fight against malaria would be progressive if the Nigeria government would invest in and empower the girl child to be greater change agents in the fight against malaria.
The virtual conference was themed: “Advancing gender equality for malaria elimination” on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child.
According to the ex Liberian President, if the girl child is empowered, impacts will be transformative and far-reaching and they will help us accelerate progress toward malaria eradication and gender equality.
She said, “Anyone can get malaria. But women and adolescent girls bear the health, societal and the economic brunt of this disease that thrives in and exacerbates poverty and deepens inequalities.
“Year after year, hundreds of millions of pregnant women and young girls get sick with malaria, with children under five making up two thirds of all malaria deaths. Others, especially adolescent girls, fall through the many gendered gaps in the provision of malaria services, sometimes with lifelong consequences.
“At the same time, women in malaria-endemic countries are the leading, but little acknowledged, investors in the fight against malaria.
“They make up 70 percent of the health workforce that has been instrumental in creating resilient community health systems in remote and, most times rural communities, driving down malaria causes and deaths over the last decades and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. And I can say to you, that our experience of Ebola led us to move from a militant approach to a community leadership approach, and that enabled us to defeat that endemic.
“Women and adolescent girls are also the greatest contributors in the informal “care economy,” caring for children and family members who may suffer from malaria multiple times in a year, which keeps them from steady work or attending school.
“Ending malaria is an unrealized opportunity for advancing gender equality in health. But for too long, the fight against malaria has been gender blind. It is time to address malaria’s hidden toll on women and girls. It is time to invest in and empower them to be greater change agents in the fight against malaria.
“When we do, the impacts will be transformative and far-reaching and they will help us accelerate progress toward malaria eradication and gender equality.
“But to do this, to achieve this, we need leadership and leadership at all levels—from communities to countries, from family tables to global forums, and from men and women alike.”