By Sarah Pickersgill
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
Better data can bring down burden
Last week, in Zambia’s Western Province, a data audit was conducted to assess the quality of reported data by the facilities and community health workers (CHWs). As we talk of elimination it becomes increasingly important to have quality data to inform strategies and decisions. In Luampa District, MACEPA’s malaria surveillance team worked with the district health information officer, malaria focal point person (MFPP), clinical care officer (CCO), data associate, and external auditor.
In the news
Until the world is rid of malaria, outbreaks will continue to occur even in regions that have long been malaria-free. In Switzerland, Plasmodium vivax malaria has recently spiked, from under 200 cases annually in the mid-2000s to 250–400 over the past four years. Likely imported by refugees from Eritrea, P. vivax malaria is causing concern at the Swiss public health department. (The Economist)
A Johns Hopkins University researcher, Ben Zaitchik, is working with a team to develop a data-driven malaria early warning system using NASA satellite data. As Zaitchik puts it, “An early warning system allows the government to move in in advance of the outbreak to try to deploy some of these known preventative measures before malaria takes over a region.” (The Hub)
Why are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs lobbying for a mosquito emoji? The idea is to use informal messaging to raise awareness about mosquito-borne diseases in a new way. PATH’s Defeat DD initiative, which focuses on diarrheal disease in low-income countries, has utilized the poo emoji in a decidedly playful way to try and break down barriers to talking about an uncomfortable topic. The hope is that a similar approach can be used to widen the conversation around malaria. (NPR)
Check out this great new series of videos in The New York Times on polio eradication efforts. Simply put, doctors who have dedicated years to fighting polio sit down over coffee with WHO representatives to tell their stories. Hear incredible accounts from experts like Naveed Sadozai, Christopher Maher, and Ousmane Diop.
Swiss scientists say they’ve found the molecular “Achilles heel” of the malaria parasite. The group has identified two target enzymes that are critical for the parasite’s ability to invade and exit from infected host cells. This graphic depicts how targeting these enzymes can disrupt the parasite’s life cycle, thereby reducing the transmission of malaria. (Phys.org)
Results from a survey conducted among communities participating in targeted malaria elimination in Laos were published in the Malaria Journal last week. The survey was conducted in two villages, each of which received three rounds of MDA, to explore the reasons for community participation. The survey investigated how well participants understood MDA, their knowledge on the signs and symptoms of malaria, and their motivations for participation.
Malaria continues to spread across refugee camps in northwestern Kenya, killing at least four. (VOA)
What does 115 years of malaria data tell us? That there is an urgent need to focus on the high burden countries in Africa and improve tools to take on this challenge. (The Conversation)