Malaria Heroes

“In the past, malaria was a huge part of the workload for health care workers. Now, they are able to sort the malaria cases out in the community. The frontline staff in the rural health centers are now putting much of their effort in working to eradicate other conditions.”
–Tolbert Shaba, acting district medical officer, Kazangula District Community Medical Office.

In southern Zambia’s Kazangula District, a robust malaria control program has had a dramatic impact. In 2004, when the program was launched, about 50 percent of the population had malaria. By 2014, the number was down to 5 cases out of 1,000 people.

The program’s success—which included indoor residual spraying in every household, bednets, testing and treating by community health workers, and contact tracing—surprised even its implementers. Now Shaba and his colleagues have raised the bar. “Our main aim as a district is to reduce malaria further, to zero per 1,000. We want to eliminate it. We are almost there.”
“In the past, malaria was a huge part of the workload for health care workers. Now, they are able to sort the malaria cases out in the community. The frontline staff in the rural health centers are now putting much of their effort in working to eradicate other conditions.”
–Tolbert Shaba, acting district medical officer, Kazangula District Community Medical Office.

In southern Zambia’s Kazangula District, a robust malaria control program has had a dramatic impact. In 2004, when the program was launched, about 50 percent of the population had malaria. By 2014, the number was down to 5 cases out of 1,000 people.

The program’s success—which included indoor residual spraying in every household, bednets, testing and treating by community health workers, and contact tracing—surprised even its implementers. Now Shaba and his colleagues have raised the bar. “Our main aim as a district is to reduce malaria further, to zero per 1,000. We want to eliminate it. We are almost there.”
Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.
“I am determined to defeat malaria in my village, in my district, and in my country."
–Aminata Ka, home-based health provider in Gassane Village, Senegal.
“I am determined to defeat malaria in my village, in my district, and in my country."
–Aminata Ka, home-based health provider in Gassane Village, Senegal.
Photo: Speak Up Africa.
“As a home-based health provider, I am determined to do my job properly. We will do what it takes to eliminate malaria from our country. We will do whatever is necessary to make it happen.”
–Cecile Ngom, Gassane Village, Senegal. (Visit the website for the national Senegalese campaign, “Zero malaria! Count me in!”)
“As a home-based health provider, I am determined to do my job properly. We will do what it takes to eliminate malaria from our country. We will do whatever is necessary to make it happen.”
–Cecile Ngom, Gassane Village, Senegal. (Visit the website for the national Senegalese campaign, “Zero malaria! Count me in!”)
Photo: Speak Up Africa.
“I am continually amazed—and surprised, even, at times—at how rapidly and dramatically we’ve decreased child deaths based solely on malaria interventions. It is a great testimony that given the right tools and financing, national programs with our assistance can make an enormous impact.”
–Kent Campbell, director of PATH’s Malaria Control and Elimination Program and Malaria Center of Excellence. (Read full interview with PATH’s Kent Campbell and Rick Steketee)
“I am continually amazed—and surprised, even, at times—at how rapidly and dramatically we’ve decreased child deaths based solely on malaria interventions. It is a great testimony that given the right tools and financing, national programs with our assistance can make an enormous impact.”
–Kent Campbell, director of PATH’s Malaria Control and Elimination Program and Malaria Center of Excellence. (Read full interview with PATH’s Kent Campbell and Rick Steketee)
Photo: PATH.
“I am committed to making sure that all of the children in my community are sleeping under a treated mosquito net every night of the year.”
–Abdoulaye Dieng, community health worker, Senegal.
“I am committed to making sure that all of the children in my community are sleeping under a treated mosquito net every night of the year.”
–Abdoulaye Dieng, community health worker, Senegal.
Photo: Geneviève Sauvalle.
“Watching countries demonstrate that they can do something that people weren’t fundamentally convinced could happen: that was a door that opened pretty recently. The other exciting door is there’s a malaria-endemic part of Africa that could no longer be endemic.”
–Rick Steketee (left), science director for PATH’s Malaria Control and Elimination Program. (Read full interview with PATH’s Kent Campbell and Rick Steketee)
“Watching countries demonstrate that they can do something that people weren’t fundamentally convinced could happen: that was a door that opened pretty recently. The other exciting door is there’s a malaria-endemic part of Africa that could no longer be endemic.”
–Rick Steketee (left), science director for PATH’s Malaria Control and Elimination Program. (Read full interview with Kent Campbell and Rick Steketee)
Photo: PATH.
“I cannot be a chief without people. I saw my people were dying; that’s why I became a champion in this area of malaria.”
–Chief Singani of the Tonga people in southern Zambia.

To overcome the stigma surrounding such interventions as using bednets, getting blood drawn for diagnostic tests, or going to the hospital for treatment, Chief Singani leads by example. “I go there straight to see the problem, to sensitize. Once I’m there they say, ‘Our chief is here. Let us listen carefully now.’”
“I cannot be a chief without people. I saw my people were dying; that’s why I became a champion in this area of malaria.”
–Chief Singani of the Tonga people in southern Zambia.

To overcome the stigma surrounding such interventions as using bednets, getting blood drawn for diagnostic tests, or going to the hospital for treatment, Chief Singani leads by example. “I go there straight to see the problem, to sensitize. Once I’m there they say, ‘Our chief is here. Let us listen carefully now.’”
Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.
“When we are outside, we carry her with us. We love her and don’t want her to miss any company.”
–Joseph Chebundet, pictured with his daughter, Rael. Since Rael was stricken with cerebral malaria, she can no longer walk, feed herself, or communicate with her family.
(Read “Fighting back against malaria” from the PATH blog)
“When we are outside, we carry her with us. We love her and don’t want her to miss any company.”
–Joseph Chebundet, pictured with his daughter, Rael. Since Rael was stricken with cerebral malaria, she can no longer walk, feed herself, or communicate with her family. (Read “Fighting back against malaria” from the PATH blog)
Photo: PATH/Eric Becker.

“The men in this community go fishing at night and in the morning, they move. When you try to meet, they are not around. Timing is crucial.”

–Litiya Mulemwa (left), public health officer, Siavonga District Hospital, on the challenges of reaching certain members of the community during malaria campaigns.

Typical malaria campaigns during the day may not reach the fishing communities on Lake Kariba, which borders Siavonga District, but programmatic innovation and coordination are catching these slippery segments of the community.

“The men in this community go fishing at night and in the morning, they move. When you try to meet, they are not around. Timing is crucial.”
–Litiya Mulemwa (left), public health officer, Siavonga District Hospital, on the challenges of reaching certain members of the community during malaria campaigns.
 
Typical malaria campaigns during the day may not reach the fishing communities on Lake Kariba, which borders Siavonga District, but programmatic innovation and coordination are catching these slippery segments of the community.
Photo: Elisabeth Wilhelm, PATH.
“When I worked as a midwife, I was involved in a lot of research and I came to appreciate research aimed at elimination of diseases. A lot of [community] strategies need to be employed for us to eliminate disease. We did this when we worked on the elimination of polio.”
–Chieftainess Mwenda in Chikankata, Southern Province (red dress) (Visit our toolkit for resources on malaria elimination)
“When I worked as a midwife, I was involved in a lot of research and I came to appreciate research aimed at elimination of diseases. A lot of [community] strategies need to be employed for us to eliminate disease. We did this when we worked on the elimination of polio.”
–Chieftainess Mwenda in Chikankata, Southern Province (red dress), pictured clockwise with Chakiwe Ndobvu, the District Medical Officer for Chikankata, Chilima Habonde, Senior Nursing Officer, Elizabeth Chiyende of MACPEA, and Dr. Victor Chalwe of the Ministry of Health. (Visit our toolkit for resources on malaria elimination)
Photo: Elisabeth Wilhelm, PATH.
“Here in Africa, many people were dying of malaria,” remembers midwife Fanny Sikalundu. Fanny is in charge of Harmony Health Post in Choma District, Zambia. “Since I’ve become old, I know it’s getting better,” she says. “In the future, there will be no malaria.”
“Here in Africa, many people were dying of malaria,” remembers midwife Fanny Sikalundu. Fanny is in charge of Harmony Health Post in Choma District, Zambia. “Since I’ve become old, I know it’s getting better,” she says. “In the future, there will be no malaria.”
Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.
"We are collecting indoor host-seeking mosquitoes using a light trap from the Centers of Disease Control. We are like a well-oiled machine, each knowing what role to play. The community health worker introduces us to the household and we explain why we are there, how long it’ll take to collect the mosquitoes, and why malaria is a big problem. Once we obtain consent, we are led into the house and the trap is set! We have trapped more than 1,400 Anopheles mosquitoes here and in four surrounding catchment areas.”
–Kochelani Saili (center), malaria control officer at PATH's MACEPA project, with entomologist Musapa and neighborhood community health worker Richard in Sinazongwe District, Southern Province, Zambia.
"We are collecting indoor host-seeking mosquitoes using a light trap from the Centers of Disease Control. We are like a well-oiled machine, each knowing what role to play. The community health worker introduces us to the household and we explain why we are there, how long it’ll take to collect the mosquitoes, and why malaria is a big problem. Once we obtain consent, we are led into the house and the trap is set! We have trapped more than 1,400 Anopheles mosquitoes here and in four surrounding catchment areas.”
–Kochelani Saili (center), malaria control officer at PATH's MACEPA project, with entomologist Musapa and neighborhood community health worker Richard in Sinazongwe District, Southern Province, Zambia.
Photo: Elisabeth Wilhelm, PATH.
Do you know a malaria hero? We'd love to feature their story. Please send their photo and a quotation to macepa@path.org.
Do you know a malaria hero? We'd love to feature their story. Please send their photo and a quotation to macepa@path.org.