Aiming to build the most effective strategies for establishing and growing malaria-free areas in Ethiopia, the Federal Ministry of Health is partnering with the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), the Amhara Regional Health Bureau, and The Carter Center, to launch a new venture—the Malaria Elimination Demonstration Project. Providing documentation and evidence that will serve as a basis for scale-up efforts to eliminate malaria and prevent reintroduction, this project aligns with Ethiopia’s national strategic plan to achieve malaria elimination within specific geographical areas with historically low malaria transmission, and to achieve near-zero malaria deaths by 2015. Eight woredas—or districts—within the Amhara Region of Ethiopia were selected for initial project implementation.
Rapid reporting is an important component of this project, which is intended to improve the availability of timely data for decision-making. Data are collected on malaria cases and commodities, and then reported to a centralized system using Android mobile phones. These phones are programmed with DHIS 2 technology that has been adapted for use in the local language, eliminating the need for translation. Once entered into the phone, data are sent through a data-enabled mobile telephone network to the DHIS2 server. Health officials can access data, viewing the local malaria situation in real time and monitoring progress in reducing malaria transmission. This strategy can improve the promptness of response to malaria cases and commodities needs, and improves decision-making abilities.
Success in this endeavor requires a cadre of capable individuals to collect and report data, thus MACEPA and the Amhara Regional Health Bureau are currently in the process of recruiting individuals to fill this role. These individuals, known as a Surveillance Assistants, are members of the community they will serve and will work alongside community-based Health Extension Workers and within the “Health Development Army”, an initiative in which one model household will lead another five households in producing and sustaining their own health. This initiative aims to scale-up best practices within a short period of time by leveraging the strength of existing community networks.
Training materials for Surveillance Assistants are in the final stages of development, which focus on strengthening knowledge both about malaria as well as the use of mobile phones for data reporting. Rapid reporting is set to launch in the Amhara Region in the upcoming peak malaria transmission season in late 2013. Data collected during this time will guide future approaches and strategies for malaria elimination within the Amhara Region.