By Stacey Naggiar
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
ITN mass distribution in Zambia
Zambia is preparing for a nationwide distribution of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) this year, it’s first since 2014. This time around, 10 million nets are expected to reach Zambia’s population of an estimated 16 million people through a community-point distribution process. It begins this April, in the hard-hit Luapula Province where district training began this week. The Program for the Advancement of Malaria Outcomes (PAMO), MACEPA’s sister project in Zambia, is supporting the training. Above, Andrew Kalonge, public health officer of Samfya District, discusses challenges with monitoring mosquito net use. See what other attendees shared below.
Chisha Kachela (above), an environmental health technologist from Mungulube Health Facility: “When something is given for free in communities there’s no ownership and people tend to sell ITNs or use them for fishing. There is a need to educate them on the benefits not only to the nation but to them as individuals and their families.”
Freda Musonda, registered nurse from Kalasa Mukoso Rural Health Centre: “In previous campaigns people used to lie about bed spaces. So this new method of calculating the number of ITNs according to household members is better. We’ll be able to use local leaders to verify before ITNs are issued so that we can attain universal coverage.”
Kabali Godfrey, Chalwe Health Post: “What punitive measures will be put in place to curtail the businessmen who, upon learning that there are free ITNs being distributed, will go around alluring the recipients of ITNs to sell them so that they can go and resell them in the neighboring country?”
In the news
Researchers have discovered what they’re calling malaria “superpowers”—proteins that enable malaria parasites to walk through cell walls to infect human liver cells. Their study, published in Cell Reports, suggests that the proteins could be targets for anti-malarial drugs or vaccines. (via Science Daily)
Zimbabwe is experiencing a surge in malaria cases and deaths according to their health ministry. Health officials suspect the increase is due to heavy rains and flooding that have displaced some 2,000 people. The government is increasing distribution of anti-malarial drugs to the affected region. (via news24.com)
On MalariaMatters.org this week Bill Brieger takes a look at the grave malaria situation in Myanmar where there’s a growing threat of anti-malarial drug resistance and low use of insecticide-treated nets for prevention, especially among high-risk groups.
A synchronized campaign is underway in 13 central and west African countries to vaccinate 116 million children against polio. With more than 190,000 polio vaccinators going door to door, the goal is to completely wipe out the last remaining reservoir of polio on the continent. Read the joint press release from UNICEF/WHO.
The practice of periodically releasing peer-reviewed research dates back to the 17th century but this tradition of keeping scientific research under a fee-based lock and key might be changing. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced joining the Wellcome Trust in open-source publishing of all the research it funds. Following in the footsteps of physics, the Foundation hopes that freely available biomedical research will restore scientific integrity where it’s been lost in the current system. (via The Economist)
Ever wonder who takes pictures for the CDC? The Atlantic did. An interview with 30-year CDC photographer James Gathany reveals that he lets mosquitoes bite him for photos, he keeps his distance from the black widows, and he thinks public domain photographs are a valuable tool for educating the public about health.
VR for global health
Virtual reality technology has the ability to transport users to another place and create immersive experience unlike traditional media has been able to do before. The UN’s “Nothing But Nets” campaign produced a short film with VR about how mosquito nets offer life-saving protection for a refugee family living in Tanzania. Watch it here at www.underthenet.net.
Zambia: more from the field
MACEPA traveled to Itezhi Tezhi District this week to see how the partnership Visualize No Malaria is being put to use on the ground. Above, Itezhi Tezhi malaria focal point person Marianne Soko has one of her regular meetings with Bruce Ngosa, environmental health technologist from the Masasabi Rural Health Centre, to assess reporting quality.
On Wednesday, the director of the National Malaria Elimination Centre, Dr. Elizabeth Chizema, met with Jackie McLeod from the Mkushi Farmers Malaria Association. McLeod set up the association—a collection of more than 100 farms and villages in Central Province—after seeing first-hand the impact of malaria on farming operations, individuals, and communities. Earlier this year, farms and their communities selected and supported workers to be trained in case management and IRS by the Ministry of Health through Mkushi District. Dr. Chizema commended McLeod for her persistence, mentioning the slogan “Malaria Ends with Me” and how such initiatives are needed if Zambia is to eliminate malaria.