British High Commissioner to Tanzania helps launch Comic Relief-GSK grants to help fight malaria in Tanzania

UK charity Comic Relief and GSK announce first grant worth TSh 7.4 billion (£2.75 million) to help fight malaria and improve health in Tanzania.

Davina McCall with Sarah Cooke in Tanzania. Photo: Twitter/HCSarahCooke

Three organisations tackling malaria in Tanzania are to receive grants worth TSh 7.6 billion (£2.8 million) from UK charity Comic Relief and GSK through their five-year partnership to help fight malaria and improve health in five malaria endemic countries.

They are: the Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania (APHFTA), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the Tanzania Communication and Development Center (TCDC).

The grants – which are the first to be given through Comic Relief and GSK’s £22 million partnership – were announced at an event hosted by the British High Commissioner, Sarah Cooke, in Dar es Salaam attended by key Tanzanian stakeholders, as well as Comic Relief officials from the UK including Comic Relief Trusstee, Davina McCall.

Speaking at the event, the British High Commissioner said: “We are marking the partnership here in Tanzania between a Great British Company – GSK- and a Great British Institution – Comic Relief. I’m delighted that we have representatives from the Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania (APHFTA), the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Tanzania (CHAI); and Tanzania Communication and Development Centre (TCDC). They are the first organisations to be awarded funding from this Partnership.”

Davina McCall in Tanzania
Fleur de Force, HC Sarah Cooke and Davina McCall in Tanzania for Comic Relief. Photo: Twitter/UKinTanzania

The High Commissioner said the Comic Relief/GSK partnership to fight malaria had special resonance with her for 2 reasons:

“Firstly, Comic Relief is an organisation that I grew up with.

“Since 1985, it has raised over £1bn through its fund-raising initiatives Red Nose Day and Sport Relief. It helps people living incredibly tough lives in the UK and around the world – predominantly in Africa. And it was one of the organisations that gave me my first introduction to the realities of extreme poverty and the daily challenges faced by millions of people.

“It was by watching Comic Relief on TV as a young school girl – and wearing a red nose to school – that I realised I was incredibly lucky to have been born in the UK with all the opportunities that brings. It helped set me on a path to spending my adult life living and working in developing countries to help others have a better life.

“In fact, you could say that I’m living here today, in the British High Commissioner’s Residence, in part because of the inspiration of Comic Relief.

“It is certainly often seen as a barometer, showing the British public’s commitment to a fairer, more equitable world. And, just like me, it is often British school children’s first introduction to the realities of extreme poverty.

“There is a second reason why the partnership between Comic Relief and GSK has particularly resonance for me.

“Around 15 years ago, I was working in the South Pacific and I contracted malaria. I was one of the lucky ones – I was able to recognise the symptoms, get tested and get treated. Not everyone is that lucky.”

The High Commissioner highlighted the tremendous progress made in the fight against malaria, including in Tanzania: Globally, death rates have declined by 60% since the year 2000, which resulted in 1.2bn fewer malaria cases and saving 6.2m lives. But the gains are fragile and more needs to be done, she said.

Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, but it still kills a child somewhere in the world every two minutes. In Africa, one in five child deaths are still caused by this terrible disease. It slows economic growth and development, and perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty. Without sustained investment, there will be a resurgence of malaria and a reversal of the impressive gains.

Ms Cooke said the British Government was committed to helping bring malaria under control in Africa, working in partnership with others: In September, our Secretary of State for International Development announced a 3 year pledge of £1.1bn to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It will help fund 40 million bed nets to fight malaria.

The British Government also has a strong and long-term focus on research and development for malaria. That includes working in partnership with companies such as GSK, a British company with an unrivalled commitment to tackling malaria – stretching back over the last century.

Comic Relief in Tanzania
The UK High Commission in Tanzania hosts represntatives from UK based charity, Comic Relief. Photo: Twitter/UKinTanzania

The High Commissioner congratulated Comic Relief, GSK and their partner organisations in Tanzania for their great work which aspires to reach over 2 million people: The Comic Relief and GSK partnership here in Tanzania will complement the tremendous work of the Ministry of Health and the National Malaria Control Programme. That is key to controlling malaria, to reducing its impact and to enabling families, communities and the economy to thrive.

The three grants will be awarded through Comic Relief and GSK’s partnership, which was launched in 2015 to fight malaria and improve health in five countries: Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and the Greater Mekong Sub Region. The organisations teamed up in support of global efforts to strengthen health systems’ capabilities to fight malaria – a disease which continues to claim the life of a child every two minutes.

The £22 million partnership fund will provide targeted grants to organisations on the frontline tackling malaria in these countries. The grants, made and managed by Comic Relief, will complement current malaria programmes and help build sustainable ways to ensure people can access diagnosis and prevention at the right time and in the right place.

Comic Relief already focuses its grants on supporting a range of interventions designed to strengthen health systems. The UK charity has used its annual national fundraising campaigns, Red Nose Day and Sport Relief, as a platform to raise awareness of the devastating impact that malaria has on families and communities.

Malaria in Tanzania

Although estimates suggest that the incidence of malaria deaths in Tanzania decreased by 73 percent between 2004 and 2014, Malaria remains the leading cause of death among children in the country. Tanzania has a National Malaria Strategic Plan which aims to reduce the average prevalence of malaria from 10% in 2012 to less than 1% by 2020. The work of the three grantees selected through the partnership complements this approach:

TCDC will use their grant of TSh 2.4 billion (£890,497) to engage and educate communities on malaria and promote positive care-seeking behaviours. Radio, print media and community events will be used to deliver these messages. Networks of community health workers will be trained on malaria prevention and treatment and on skills to facilitate dialogue and increase awareness of the disease in the communities they serve.

APHFTA will use their grant of TSh 2.7 billion (£995,675) to improve malaria healthcare services in the private and public sector in Geita, and increase malaria knowledge. The project will work to improve the availability and quality of malaria diagnosis, treatment and prevention services through training public and private health providers in national malaria treatment guidelines and the use of diagnostic equipment and appropriate treatment.

CHAI will use their grant of TSh 2.5 billion (£955,328) to train private providers in Rukwa, Ruvumba and Njombe districts to use rapid diagnostic tests to diagnose for malaria; screen for other common illnesses which cause fever; provide assured medicines to treat the diagnosed illness; refer people with complications to health facilities; and use their mobile phones to collect and use data to better track patients.

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