Addis Ababa, 30 January 2012

President Kagame this Monday received on behalf of Rwanda the prestigious 2012 African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) awards. Rwanda was among the seven African countries to receive the 2nd ALMA awards for Excellence for ‘their exemplary leadership in accelerating and sustaining access to malaria control and treatment’.

The award was presented to President Kagame during a luncheon hosted by ALMA held on the sidelines of 18th Ordinary Session of the African Union. Award recipients were grouped into two categories. In the First category, Rwanda, Burundi and Mozambique were recognized for having banned the importation and use of oral artemisinin -based monotherapies and removal of tariffs on all essential commodities used in the fight against Malaria.  In the award acceptance speech, President Kagame said that the reduction of malaria in Rwanda results from efforts put in improving Rwandans’ welfare.

“Thank you also for the award, which I receive on behalf of Rwandans who work so hard to make their lives better” said the head of state adding that “the efforts recognized today are proof of what can be done with the resources at one’s disposal, relevant policies, and a great deal of commitment”.

The ALMA award is presented to Rwanda at a time when the Country is drawing praises from all over the World for having reduced Malaria significantly.  Current figures indicate that deaths due to malaria in Rwanda have dropped to only 7% from 60% following years of a rapid scale-up.  The battle against Malaria in Rwanda was a characterized by a massive distribution of insecticide treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying and a combination of therapies. President Kagame believes that cross border anti-malaria efforts are needed in “such areas as early detection of drug resistance and harmonization of control interventions”

Addressing a high profile gathering including Heads of state and government who attended the AU summit, President Kagame also called for collaboration among countries in the fight against malaria saying that “Shared information translates into shared and reduced costs” thus helping countries to overcome the issue of insufficient funds”.

“If we work together and direct more domestic resources at malaria control, I believe this challenge can be overcome, and we can make even greater strides towards a healthier African population.” said Kagame.

The second category of 2012 ALMA awards winners include Benin, Cameroon, Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania. The four countries were recognized for having made outstanding progress in malaria control over the last year.

This Monday, the Alliance announced Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as new chairman of ALMA replacing President Jakaya Kikwete.Earlier in the day African heads of state and government converged at the headquarters of the African Union to elect the New Chairman of the AU commission but the vote hit a deadlock.

The election pitched incumbent Jean Ping against South Africa’s Interior Minister Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma. In what was described as the tightest race ever for the AU Commission’s top post, the South African dropped out after losing the third round.

Yet, in the next round, Ping failed to obtain the number of votes needed (32) for him to win a second term. Ping, from Gabon, won the first round 28-25, but did not garner needed two thirds to secure his re-election.

Dlamini-Zuma won the second round with a single vote margin of 27-26, but lost the third round 29-24 and then pulled out of the race. The suspension of the vote means that the Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha will act as interim Chairperson until fresh elections are held at the 19th AU Heads of State and Government Assembly to be held in six months in Lilongwe, Malawi.

In conclusion, it was decided that Kenya’s Erastus Mwencha would serve as interim Chairperson of the AU Commission until a new Chairman will be selected at the next AU Summit, scheduled to take place Lilongwe, Malawi this coming June.