Your MACEPA Malaria Minute: Communications, and beyond!

By Sarah Pickersgill
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow

This week, MACEPA joined Breakthrough Action at their first meeting in Zambia. B-A Zambia, a USAID-funded project, is all about SBC: Social Behavior Change. For those accustomed to that acronym containing an extra C at the end, the field has shifted away from the last C, communication, because, according to B-A Zambia, it presented too narrow a lens to the detriment of formative research, behavioral economics, human-centered design, and so on.  Please update your abbreviation lists accordingly. 

How to go about getting a 17-year-old secondary student in rural Zambia to sleep under a bednet (assuming there are plenty of insecticide-treated nets [ITNs] in her household)? Is it better to focus on the individual or aim to nudge the context? Good questions. And important ones because the data show that adolescents are consistently on the low end for net use and the high end for parasitemia. B-A Zambia focuses much of its energy on such sticky wickets.

Pictured: Julie Namwinga (Ministry of Health), Todd Jennings (MACEPA), Evans Mwape (PAMO), Ernest Kakoma (NMEC).

And now, for something completely different

First aid and fire safety trainings were held at the PATH Zambia offices this week. Let’s just say we are prepared for anything now!


In the news

Two great, short podcasts this week from MEASURE Evaluation on leveraging malaria data. Hear from MEASURE Evaluation’s malaria expert, Yazoume Ye, about the need for using malaria data in country and sharing data between countries. And learn how the malaria strategies compare and contrast between mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.

Plasmodium vivax, while less deadly than P. falciparum, can be found in dormant forms known as hypnozoites, which can lead to recurring infections. A group of MIT researchers developed a method to grow the dormant parasite in engineered human liver tissue, allowing them to closely study how the parasite becomes dormant, what vulnerabilities it may have, and how it springs back to life. Check out this article in MIT News for more on the battle against vivax malaria and for cool videos of malaria parasites emerging from an infected cell!

The Vodaphone Foundation is supporting an initiative to use mobile phone data to track and control epidemics in Ghana. Vodafone Group External Affairs Director Joakim Reiter said the company will use its mobile technology and data to measure human mobility and model how infections can spread. (Reuters)

Although a set of new maps, which give detail to the level of an individual village, are showing that no single country is set to end childhood malnutrition by 2030, they’re also showing that every nation has at least one region where children’s health is improving. Simon Hay, a global health researcher from the University of Washington, and his team collected data from community-level surveys and produced a series of 5km by 5km scale maps, showing child growth and educational attainment across Africa over the 15-year span of the study. This level of detail allows us to see large disparities within individual countries and enables policymakers to use this evidence to appropriately direct their resources. (BBC)

In the book and exhibit “Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?” designers Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright examine how public health messages have been communicated throughout history. (National Geographic

At a time when we have “more research than we can cope with,” a focus on implementation research or translational research may be needed. Interviews with Rwanda’s former Minister of Health, Agnes Binagwaho and South Africa’s chronic disease chief, Melvyn Freeman in SciDevNet this week explore the best ways to apply research findings and provide healthcare services.

Opening the 29th annual conference of Ethiopian Public Health Association (EPHA), Health Minster Yifruberhan Mitke said, “As Ethiopia has a number of success stories towards reducing malaria, it will repeat this world acclaimed achievements in getting rid of malaria once for all.” Outstanding efforts to eliminate malaria in Tanzania were also recognized this week at a meeting convened by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Swiss Tropical Public Health Institute (STPH) and WHO in Dar es Salaam. (ReliefWeb)

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