WINDHOEK, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 90 percent of all malaria cases in the world occur in sub-Saharan Africa, former Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services Richard Kamwi said here Wednesday.
Kamwi was speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing 38th Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit for the Elimination 8 (E8) regional initiative.
The E8 initiative was established across eight SADC countries with Kamwi as its founding chair to jointly plan and execute a regional malaria elimination strategy after the discovery that malaria claims more lives in sub-Saharan Africa than any other disease.
"About 90 percent of malaria cases and 91 percent of malaria deaths worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly found in children under the age of 5 and expecting mothers; these are the most vulnerable," Kamwi said.
A 2018 study by Malaria Futures for Africa said the disease costs the African economy more than 12 billion U.S. dollars annually and slows the economic growth of countries with high malaria rates by 1.3 percent. Kamwi said eliminating malaria could help reduce poverty and strengthen economic growth.
"An estimated 75 percent of businesses in sub-Saharan Africa are negatively affected by malaria. Thus eliminating malaria will reduce healthcare costs, improve the health of the workforce, raise productivity and cut absenteeism. No doubt it will strengthen tourism and free up resources previously allocated to countering malaria as a health priority," he said.
The E8 signatories are Angola, Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini (previously Swaziland), Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.