Mass screen and treat (MSAT)—testing entire communities and treating all individuals that test positive for malaria—is an approach that the Zambia Ministry of Health, in partnership with MACEPA, is using to reduce transmission of the disease one community at a time. Community health workers are paired with data collectors to visit each house in a village to actively root out malaria cases. This is an important strategy, since many people are unsuspecting carriers of the parasite and don’t show symptoms (called asymptomatic malaria). The goal of MSAT is to clear as much of the parasite reservoir as possible before the rainy season begins to drive down transmission of the parasite and eventually create and grow malaria free communities.
Follow our community health workers as they test and treat for malaria in the fishing villages of Sinazongwe District along the shores of Lake Kariba in Southern Province, Zambia.
This fishing village sits alongside Lake Kariba in Sinazongwe District, an area where there is high malaria transmission.
Pairs of community health workers and data collectors walk toward the village to test every person in each household and treat those who test positive. Carrying out the mass screen and treat program during the dry season—completing three rounds of testing cycles that each last 30 days—requires dedication and commitment. During this dry season, nine teams of two workers covered 4,000 people in a week and a half!
It is essential to root out as many malaria parasites as possible before the wet season begins, when malaria spreads the fastest.
Community health workers (CHWs) report to an environmental health technician based in the local health facility. The data gathered by the CHWs guides national malaria surveillance efforts, and the patient history data can be useful for other health programs.
Of all the people tested for malaria in this catchment area in Sinazongwe District, around half tested positive for malaria—most of whom showed no symptoms. It would have been impossible to clear out the malaria parasites from this community without clearing the hidden disease carriers.
After testing positive for malaria, this child is given Coartem®, a fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) used to treat malaria. This CHW is explaining to a parent how often to give his son the medicine.
It took some parental intervention for this little girl to willingly submit to a blood test. But after the CHW pricked her finger, she realized there wasn’t anything to be afraid of and smiled. She was rewarded for her bravery: after testing positive for malaria, she received treatment to clear the parasite from her body.
The results of these rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) take about 20 minutes. “C” stands for control, ensuring the quality of the RDT. “T” stands for test, and a line appears when the parasite is present. These three tests represent community members who tested negative for the parasite.