By Sarah Pickersgill
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
Global Fund commitments in Senegal
On Thursday, January 25, the official signing ceremony for grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria took place in Dakar, Senegal. Minister of Health Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr signed the financing agreement for over $80 million with the chief financial officer of the Global Fund, Sylvie Billion, and Doudou Ba, the national director of CCM (National Commission of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria).
In her remarks, Billion noted that Senegal’s leadership is essential to the success of the fight against these three diseases and to building resilient and sustainable health systems in the sub-region and beyond.
New WHO country lead in Zambia
Pictured below: MACEPA Senior Advisor and Coordinator Abdi Mohamed and MACEPA Senior Technical Advisor John Miller flank Nathan Nsubuga Bakyaita, the new WHO representative for Zambia, following his official welcoming at the National Malaria Elimination Centre last week. It was more of a welcome back than a welcome, as Bakyaita was a part of the country’s first Malaria Indicator Survey in 2006.
Bakyaita spoke about how the work of the national program and partners is about the 16.2 million Zambians. And it even extends beyond that, he said. Because of the country’s unique position geographically and culturally, what is done here can affect how things are done in central Africa, east Africa, and southern Africa. Thus, in all our work, he concluded, don’t be sloppy, pay attention to the data, and don’t forget the people.
MDA part 2
The second round of mass drug administration (MDA) is taking place in select areas in Zambia this week. In Luampa District in Western Province, a team from the national program and ZNBC TV weathered rain and long distances to monitor and document how it’s going on the ground.
Pictured below: A girl with diarrhea (a symptom of malaria) was brought by her mother to Nyambi 2 Health Center, one of the areas conducting MDA. A community health worker administered a rapid diagnostic test, which came back positive for malaria. The child took part in round one of MDA in November, but has yet to receive round two which is scheduled to start in her area next Monday.
Pictured below: Local media from ZNBC TV are in the district talking with community health workers and reporting on the second round of MDA. The resulting media products will be aired in both English and Lozi.
Want to come along for the journey? Check out this video from travels in Western Province. The good driving is thanks to MACEPA’s Abraham Sakala.
In the news
Malaria made headlines at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos this year, coming in at number four on the list of top takeaways from the week. Bill Gates talked passionately of malaria elimination by 2040, which he says is a real possibility if we keep relentless energy and focus on the effort. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, added that “we need smart data and analytics to guide the path.” (Fortune)
Bill Gates sat down with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait at WEF to discuss investments in malaria elimination efforts. Listen to why he thinks that US President Donald Trump’s “America First” approach could damage the US’s influence in Africa in the long term in this Bloomberg interview.
More from WEF:
Mark Green, administrator of USAID, stressed the importance of private sector engagement during talks at the World Economic Forum last week. “We want to tap into the entrepreneurship and creativity and ingenuity of the private sector by going beyond contracting and grantmaking,” he said. Green’s comments come less than a month before the US administration’s budget is expected to be released—many anticipating significant cuts to the aid budget; however, Green adds that “we would be undertaking these types of initiatives regardless of what the budget situation was.” (Devex)
Three private sector companies, Lombard Odier, Heineken, and Unilever, announced partnership agreements with the Global Fund toward a common goal: improving public health and ending HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria as epidemics. These companies will lend their expertise in data management, supply chain logistics, and communications to advance the Global Fund’s efforts in battling infectious diseases in Africa and southern Asia. (Kaiser Family Foundation)
More from Bill:
Bill Gates promised $31 million to the Regional Malaria Elimination Initiative (RMEI), a new malaria elimination fund focused in seven Central American countries and the Dominican Republic. Together with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Carlos Slim Foundation, a total of $83.6 million in new funds will be allocated “to ensure malaria remains a top health and development priority despite dwindling numbers of cases.” (Reuters)
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $1.4 million grant to the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia to create a synthetic DNA-based vaccine for malaria. In collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., researchers at the Wistar Institute are using synthetic DNA and an electroporation device created by Inovio Pharmaceuticals to instruct the human body to produce malaria-specific antigens. (Forbes)
Highlights from the 30th African Union Summit:
Six African countries were recognized by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) at the 30th African Union Summit for their exemplary leadership in driving down malaria cases. The 2018 Awards for Excellence went to Madagascar, Senegal, Gambia, Zimbabwe, Algeria, and the Comoros. (The Independent)
At the AU Summit, Zambian Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya mentioned Zambia’s commitment toward health development, particularly the launch of a national elimination campaign malaria programme. He stated that Zambia has doubled its resources toward the elimination of malaria in the last year and areas such as Southern Province are on the verge of eliminating malaria. (ZNBC)
Sam Loewenberg warns of the drastic impact decreased malaria funding could have on millions of families across Africa—families like that of Jennifer Nyiranda, a 53-year-old farmer in Eastern Province, Zambia. (IRIN)
Swatting at mosquitoes may actually teach them to avoid humans. A study published in Current Biology suggests that swatting at a mosquito, even if you miss, makes the mosquito associate your scent with a dangerous feeding situation and subsequently they may switch their preferences. Understanding more about how mosquitoes process information and select their hosts could help develop more targeted ways of fighting the vector. (New York Times, NPR)
The toothpaste ingredient triclosan could be the new, secret weapon in the fight against drug-resistant malaria. Scientists from Cambridge University used an artificially intelligent (AI) robot to conduct high-throughput screenings of triclosan’s ability to inhibit malaria parasite growth. The AI robot, nicknamed Eve, automatically develops and tests hypotheses to explain observations, runs experiments using laboratory robotics, interprets the results, alters the hypotheses, and then repeats the cycle. (Reuters)
After enduring three years of war, hunger, and disease, malaria is now on the rise in Yemen. WHO estimated that malaria cases rose to 433,000 in 2016 from 336,000 the year before. A collapsing health care system as well as poor access to clean water and sanitation continue to put more people at risk. (Reuters)
Bill Brieger talks about the relationship between climate change and malaria this week on his blog, Malaria Matters. Of particular concern are the shifts that expose new and more vulnerable populations to the threat of malaria. Brieger calls for strong surveillance efforts that monitor disease, vectors, and climate in order to be ready to respond.