yvonneChakaChakaGrowing up in apartheid divided South Africa, inequality was present in all aspects of my life. Over the last six years, I have discovered that there is currently an apartheid of ill health in all corners of Africa. Poor men, women, and children who have almost no access to basic health services are trapped in a cycle of poverty and sickness, oft en dying of preventable and treatable diseases like malaria.

Today, I am a mother to four boys whom I have raised on one of the most beautiful and resource rich continents. Witnessing the technological and scientific advances of the 21st century, I can't help but feel frustrated and angry by the stark contrast in the lives of the many women I have met in Africa today.

My personal campaign against malaria began after the death of Phumzile Ntuli–my band member and dear friend. We had travelled to Gabon in 2004 to perform at the 10th anniversary celebrations of the new, free South Africa. Shortly after we returned, she fell ill and her health deteriorated rapidly. I was stunned when she died. The fact that her death had been caused by a treatable disease was unacceptable to me.

My personal loss opened my eyes to the thousands of women and young children that die every day from this disease. Too often in remote villages, family members are forcedto make hard choices between buying food or buying whatever medication is available. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable–weakened by infection, their babies are more likely to be stillborn or die shortly after birth. Malaria is one ofthe leading causes of death among children under five, a childdies every 30 seconds.

Over the last few years I have witnessed great improvements. A surge of new malaria initiatives and more commitment from donors, including the UK and the U.S., shows that more governments are making malaria a top priority.

As a result of these efforts, more than 1.1 million children under the age of five have been saved in sub-Saharan Africa alone. Enough insecticide treated bed nets have been delivered in Africa over the last two years to protect 80% of people at risk from malaria. In addition, thousands of health workers have been trained to help their local communities access and hang these nets as well as to treat malaria in remote villages and communities. Many of these marvellous men and women who are making a huge difference in people's lives–have themselves lost children to malaria. They now care for children orphaned by AIDS and help provide essential health services and access to treatment for their communities.

This progress is so wonderful and gives me hopefor a better future. However, I believe we can do so much more. The international community has pledged to reduce malaria deaths to almost zero by 2015. We have big hurdles to overcome in order to reach this goal. Affordable malaria treatments are still not widely available near the home. In addition, the best and mos teffective treatments for malaria could lose their strength if drug resistance spreads.

I, for one, want the world to continue to prioritize the fight against malaria so we can improve the health of mothers and children. I want these precious dollars from donor governments to continue to save lives. We need predictable and sustainable funding in order to maintain the gains we have made. But transparency and accountability are critical too, and we must spend these lifesaving resources carefully and wisely if we are to keep the confidence of donor governments and their taxpayers.I also want to see my continent do more for itself. We need our own African leaders to commit their own tax resourcesas promised in Abuja and to prioritize the health of women and children. Donor funds must be additional support to our own dedicated investments in the health of our communities.

We, in Africa, have the potential to strengthen our own health budgets. We need less rhetoric and more real political leadership from our leaders. They must work together with the international community to build our economy and create wealth for our people. People are our greatest resource on this continent and we must make the effort to keep our population healthy if we want to be prosperous.

We are now entering the next phase in the fight against disease and poverty. We have shown what can be achieved–now we must intensify our efforts.

To our ministers of health and finance I say: make sure our people get value for money. And to the donors: don't giveup now, the progress is tangible. We are moving in the right direction. We must win this battle for the sake of our children, they are Africa's future.