Business experts, private sector CEOs and leaders in health called for intensified public private partnerships to promote development and economic growth in Africa during a closing session at the World Economic Forum on Africa. During the session the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Zambezi Expedition was showcased as a successful model of a public private partnership that could be replicated for tackling other development challenges in the future.
Private sector partners, ExxonMobil and Coca Cola, and representatives from the South African Development Community Chambers of Commerce used unique film footage from the 2,500 km voyage through 6 countries to describe how public and private sector collaboration could help trigger economic development and regeneration in the region.
"The Zambezi is a potential gateway to development like other great waterways," said Dr Steven Phillips, Medical Director of ExxonMobil. "This ambitious malaria expedition has reached into remote communities and shown us what public private partnerships can do to advance industry, health and education in the region and make a difference to peoples' lives."
Panelists Prof. Awa Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) and Sipho Mseleku, CEO of the Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCCI) underlined the critical importance of political commitment in fighting diseases of poverty such as malaria. They called for increased multi-country collaboration with specific attention to strengthening community engagement against poverty and disease. "Malaria knows no borders and the Roll Back Malaria Zambezi Expedition is a model for multi-country cooperation" said Prof Coll-Seck, "We hope that countries in other sub-regions will collaborate in this way because they have similar problems".
Malaria kills more than 1 million people every year and is both a cause and consequence of poverty. With 90% of global malaria deaths, and losses of US$12 billion every year attributable to malaria, Africa bears the greatest burden of disease. However much progress has been made in recent years especially the increased distribution of insecticide treated nets in large parts of the continent.
"Access is the foremost challenge along the shores of the Zambezi. We were able to deliver mosquito nets and malaria treatments to many communities - but that was only a drop in the bucket. The Zambezi could be used more effectively to transport all sorts of goods and services," said Helge Bendl, one of the expedition leaders who also cited regular flooding as a key hazard affecting the fragile livelihoods of riverside populations.
Photographers of the world reknown photo agency VII will document the Roll Back Malaria Zambezi Expedition while it travels from the source of the river to its completion at the Indian Ocean. "VII's mission in documenting crisis and solution in the world fits in perfectly with the goals of this project. We hope our work will shed light on the effects, causes and solutions of malaria in Africa", says VII photographer Ron Haviv, who will be the first of four VII photographers to join the expedition crew.
VII has been responsible for creating and relaying to the world many of the images that define the turbulent opening years of the 21st century. Its photographers document conflict - environmental, social and political, both violent and non-violent - to produce an unflinching record of the injustices created and experienced by people caught up in the events they describe.
While the stark realities of the battlefield loom large, VII turns its gaze with equal intensity to more subtle forms of conflict and documenting the changes and development of society and culture worldwide. But this is not merely artfully captured, neutral observation; nor is it the doctrinaire elaboration of a political or social position. Each photographer is inspired by an array of often very different motivations, and it is from this breadth of reference that the agency draws its originality and strength. What unites VII's work is a sense that, in the act of communication at the very least, all is not lost; the seeds of hope and resolution inform even the darkest records of inhumanity; reparation is always possible; despair is never absolute.
International media will put the fight against malaria on their agenda over the next months. This became evident at a media briefing in Johannesburg where the Zambezi Expedition was presented to journalists and foreign correspondents based in South Africa. Among the media that have already reported or want to report about the Zambezi Expedition are Al Jazeera International, AFP, ARD German TV, ARD German Radio, BBC World Service, Channel Africa, DW TV, dpa, Reuters TV, SABC Africa, SABC and Xinhua.
"Malaria imposes a crushing burden on Africa both in human and economic terms", said Roll Back Malaria's Project Manager Hervé Verhoosel. "Yet countries bordering the Zambezi are ready to take on this challenge." Five countries in the region are developing a joint action plan and a proposal for an increased coverage of populations at risk.
"The Zambezi Expedition will enable journalists to tell the story of remote populations at the water's edge who are anxious to receive protective treated nets and malaria treatments", Co-Expedition Leader Helge Bendl explained. "Our crew will pick up teams of media, medical personnel and staff of the national malaria program in each country and visit river communities, diagnose malaria cases and deliver life-saving interventions."
The Hon Dr Brian Chituwo, Minister of Health (Zambia) and Chairperson of the SADC Ministers of Health, has opened the most recent coordination meeting for the Zambezi Expedition. "The Zambezi Expedition has come at an opportune time to raise awareness on malaria and will help to contribute to the scaling up of malaria interventions and the eradication of the disease", Chituwo said.
From January 21-24, National Malaria Control Program managers of countries along the Zambezi met with representatives of Southern African Development Community (SADC) Military Health Services, United Nations agencies and NGOs in Livingstone, Zambia, to elaborate the roles and responsibilities for partners involved in the Zambezi Expedition.
Co-Expedition leader Helge Bendl and Logistics Chief Andrew Weinberg mapped the project for participating countries. Discussions covered stopping points along the river and the logistics needed to bring health teams and journalists to the Zambezi. The representatives planned media events at the launch and on World Malaria Day (April 25) as well as local press conferences in the participating countries.
Three customized rigid inflatable expedition boats donated by Zodiac have left the port of Hamburg, Germany, on board the MV Green Cape bound for Cape Town, South Africa. Upon arrival in mid-February, the expedition equipment will be transported overland to the source of the Zambezi river in Northwestern Zambia. The launch of the Zambezi Expedition is now scheduled for the last days of March.
MV Green Cape, a 177 metre long ship with a capacity of 1,200 twenty-foot containers, is sailing for MACS Maritime Carrier, a family-owned enterprise based in Hamburg and Cape Town, specialized in container transport between Europe and Africa. MACS has a growing fleet of multipurpose vessels capable of handling every type of cargo and containers. No other carrier between Europe and Southern Africa offers such flexibility.
MACS is shipping and handling the expedition boats and additional equipment free of charge and has been one of the early supporters of the Zambezi Expedition.