By Sarah Pickersgill
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
Last week, while out delivering supplies to health facilities in Kazangula, Zambia, MACEPA’s Godfrey Mwamba encountered a slight problem. Where there was once a road, there is now a river. After learning it would take five days with no rain before the flooding would subside, Godfrey got creative. Enlisting help from locals in the area, two men put the supplies in a plastic bag and swam them across the river! Check out the video on MACEPA’s Instagram.
In Nalolo, Zambia, this week MACEPA’s Zambia team continues to build up the community health worker (CHW) forces in Western Province. Approximately 140 CHWs are being trained on how to administer rapid diagnostic tests, data collection, and more.
Pictured below: CHWs learning how to maintain their registers, and preparing reports from their field practical.
Senegal strategic planning
Yakou Dieye, scientific coordinator for MACEPA Senegal, led a field activity evaluation workshop last week during which field supervisors and malaria focal-point persons shared their experiences from 2017 and discussed the way forward in 2018. The group evaluated challenges and successes in cross-border case management, reviewed action plans, and defined goals and deliverables for 2018.
In the news
Scientists in Germany have developed a technique to harvest and utilize artemisin-production waste products to develop the key malaria drug ingredient itself. The new process can convert about 40 percent of the waste acid into artemisinin itself, producing more of the drug from what had in the past been discarded. This development could increase the global supply and therefore reduce costs for anti-malaria medicines. (Washington Post)
Have you thanked an entomologist today? During the Zika outbreak in the US, there was an urgent search for entomologists. Medical entomology—the study of insects and arthropods that impact human health—has been a shrinking field for at least two decades. The lack of these scientists in the US was identified during the Zika outbreak, but has serious consequences for human health more widely. The CDC is working to address the gap. In 2017, the agency announced that it was providing nearly $50 million in funding to universities in order to establish centers of excellence to help address emerging vector-borne diseases in the US. (TIME)
The presence of drug resistant malaria is well known now in the Greater Mekong Subregion, but new findings suggest that resistance to first-line treatment with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine emerged as early as 2008—five years before it was first reported in the region in 2013. Researchers from Wellcome Sanger Institute examined 1,492 P. falciparum samples collected from 11 locations across Southeast Asia, including 464 samples from western Cambodia between 2007 and 2013. They discovered a single epidemiological origin—the KEL1 lineage, which was first detected in low frequencies in 2007—accounted for 91 percent of parasites with resistance to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. (Healio)
Disease elimination is possible. Though many doubted the ability to eliminate it thirty years ago, efforts to expand treatment for onchocerciasis are showing impressive results. Countries including Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sudan, and Uganda have eliminated transmission of onchocerciasis in subnational areas. Like with many elimination efforts, challenges remain. Civil unrest, hard-to-reach rural populations, and cross-border transmission must be addressed if we are going to add this parasite to the extinction list. (International Health)
Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) used to detect P. falciparum work by targeting the parasite HRP2, more specifically the correlated antigen, pfhrp2. Parasites that are pfhrp2-negative therefore cause a false-negative malaria test result when using an RDT. These parasites have been identified in South America, India, along the China–Myanmar border, and in countries in Africa, including Mali, Senegal, Ghana, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, a recent article in Emerging Infectious Diseases has now identified an increasing prevalence of pfhrp2-negative parasites in Eritrea.
With PMI support, 6 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, over the next six weeks, will be distributed across malaria-risk zones in Ethiopia. These nets will replace ones distributed three years ago and will protect additional families. Increased net coverage is one of the factors helping Ethiopia make great strides in their malaria elimination efforts. Ethiopia is one of the six African nations to receive the 2017 African Leaders Malaria Alliance award for showing strong leadership and commitment in the fight against malaria. (AllAfrica)