Your MACEPA Malaria Minute: Community health worker spotlight

By Chelsea Montes de Oca
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow

Community health workers serve on the front line of the malaria elimination effort so have direct insight on the pursuit of elimination in Zambia. They also have inspiring and powerful stories on why they volunteer for their communities. Here’s one such story about Agness Ndulubila, a community health worker of 23 years, written by MACEPA Community Engagement Officer Emma Lwando.

Agness Ndulubila has served as a volunteer community health worker (CHW) for 23 years. With a health system hindered by a shortage of doctors and other health workers, CHWs in Mulobezi District are essential in their communities. Many villagers live great distances from health facilities and lack transport to reach them. Frontline health workers like Mrs. Ndulubila are often the first, and sometimes only, providers of health services to test and treat for malaria.

Mrs. Ndulubila lost her second-born daughter to malaria. “This is what motivated me to get involved and educated about health, specifically malaria,” she said. “I was so proud to be chosen by my community as a health worker. Wherever I go, people praise me as a doctor.”

Community IRS

Zambia’s National Malaria Elimination Programme and MACEPA have facilitated community engagement sessions to obtain direct feedback from community members on their view of malaria elimination efforts in Zambia. Across the country, there was a consistent piece of feedback: IRS Spray Operators should be recruited from the communities they serve. The National Programme listened and have now piloted community reactive IRS in partnership with MACEPA. This initiative identifies spray operators from the communities where reactive IRS is determined to be appropriate. By using local spray operators there is greater trust and acceptance from communities, more structures are included improving the spray effectiveness rate, and overall there is increased community ownership of this activity.

A meeting was held to map out where the rollout would take place. Eight catchments in Sinazongwe District met the targeting criteria from community surveillance data. So far the reception for community IRS has been positive, a 98% acceptance rate.

The program utilizes CHWs and faith-based leaders to act as mobilizers and increase acceptance of IRS among community members. Photo: PATH/Chilumba Sikombe

Field monitoring team in Siasowa, Sinazongwe District.
Photo: PATH/Chilumba Sikombe

The use of the REVEAL platform (formerly known as mSpray) is a powerful tool to help implementers map structures within target areas. Photo: PATH/Todd Jennings

Community engagement in Western Province

MACEPA recently supported community meetings in the Western Province of Zambia. These meetings focused on sensitizing the community to integrated community case management activities. Check out a few highlights below.

A new group of community health workers introduced to community members in Lombelombe. Photo: PATH/Emma Lwando

Entomological surveillance officer Javan Chanda, showing off his mosquito larvae.
Photo: PATH/Emma Lwando

“Even since the MDA program was started here in Sejamba in 2017 and 2018, we have seen a reduction in malaria cases in our communities compared to the previous years.” – Justine Jumbila of Mbiyana village

“Personally I have no idea what those CHWs do in our community despite seeing them around. At no time has a meeting such as this one been called before to tell us about the works that these CHWs do in our communities.” – Mr. Richard.T.Kamocha, Kashitu village, explaining why these meetings were welcome

Prescription drugs sold illegally in Uganda

In an undercover investigation, BBC found that life-saving drugs are being stolen and sold on the black market in Uganda. They also discovered that health workers are some of the perpetrators at the heart of this illicit trade. Watch here.

Algeria and Argentina officially deemed malaria-free by WHO

In case you missed it, Algeria and Argentina were declared malaria-free! To officially gain malaria-free status from the World Health Organization, a country has to prove that it has stopped in-country transmission of malaria for at least three consecutive years. Learn how they did it.

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