Your MACEPA Malaria Minute: Happy World Health Day

By Stacey Naggiar
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow

World health worker week

Not only is it World Health Day, but it’s also World Health Worker Week. As the latter comes to a close, check out some photos posted on our @path_macepa Instagram account this week that recognized health workers who work tirelessly to end malaria. Follow us on Instagram for more.

 

Health workers include everyone from government officials to rural health facility staff to community health workers testing and treating for malaria at people’s homes. In Itezhi Tezhi, Zambia, Marianne, Bruce and Prisca (pictured left to right) all rely on each other to provide the best care possible. They’re part of a select group of users benefitting from a @pathglobalhealth partnership with @Tableau and the Zambian Ministry of Health that is bringing sophisticated data visualization software to Zambia. Being able to ‘see’ what’s happening on the ground with malaria, in real time, allows these health workers to better plan their interventions and to better manage commodities like drugs and diagnostic kits. Learn more from link in bio. . . . #whwweek #healthworkers #healthworkerscount #zambia #impact @tableausoftware #globalhealth #diagnose #tableausoftware #eliminatemalaria @pathglobalhealth #endmalaria #tableau #visualizenomalaria #data #dataviz

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In the news

Appropriately timed for World Heath Worker week, STAT News highlights community engagement as a “powerful but untapped resource for fighting malaria.” The author, an entomologist, argues that if the communities most affected by malaria take up a role in controlling the disease big change is possible. She urges players in malaria control to consider developing guidelines “to help governments and organizations actively involve communities” similar to the way guidelines were developed by WHO for community health workers.

An editorial comment in the Zimbabwe Daily describes the devastating toll malaria is having on poor rural lives in Zimbabwe’s eastern province, Manciland. The author says now is the time to focus efforts on eradicating malaria and suggests this can be accomplished by increasing coverage of control strategies and making malaria prevention part of the fabric of life of every community. 

In Namibia, 18 people have died and close to 12,000 people have tested positive for malaria already this year. The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Bernard Haufiku, said this resurgence is evidence that despite significant progress toward malaria eradication Namibia remains at risk for malaria epidemics. (via New Era)

However, the Chinese pharmaceutical company Namax is donating $39,000 worth of anti-malarial drugs to Namibia, according to Xinhau. The Permanent Secretary of the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services called on other private sector partners to support the government in procuring medicine in order to achieve the goal of malaria elimination in Namibia by 2020. 

In Burundi, there have been over 4,000 deaths due to malaria already this year—up from earlier estimates of 700 deaths. The country, plagued with political instability and extreme poverty, has seen over 9 million cases of malaria this year according to the U.N. humanitarian office. (Daily Journal)

A study published in BMJ found that the use of rapid diagnostic tests for malaria are associated with an increase of patients receiving antibiotics. Introduction of RDTs has meant that only patients who test positive for malaria receive anti-malarials. The unintended consequence is that patients who test negative but continue to suffer from fever or other symptoms are given antibiotics. (via UMN CIDRAP

Nigeria has set 2030 as a target to eliminate malaria, according to the country’s National Malaria Elimination Programme. The program will use World Malaria Day as a platform to urge everyone to participate with the theme, “No one should die from a mosquito bite! Your role is to protect yourself and your family from malaria, so we can all end malaria for good in Nigeria.” (via The Nation)

An expert from the Malaria Consortium is suggesting that African health agencies and governments should “start consulting seasonal weather forecasts to help prepare for malaria epidemics and ensure outbreaks are spotted early and curbed before they become severe.” Read more on Reuters.

Global health reporter Donald McNeil Jr. writes about the World Health Organization’s new process to identify a Director General this year. He describes the importance of the role in responding to dangerous epidemics, as well as working with donors and private institutions to secure funding for an institution with a budget that is half of one prestigious NYC hospital. Read more in the New York Times to learn about each of the three candidates. 

Watch this report from Reuters about new research on why mosquitoes prefer to feed on blood from people already infected with malaria. 


Mass insecticide-treated net distribution

What is the most effective way to ensure families receive mosquito nets and use them properly: distributing the nets door-to-door or establishing a common point in a community for net pick-up? The Zambian Ministry of Health wanted to know just that. In 2016, they published a study comparing the two methods and found that so-called community-point distribution saved a lot of time and achieved higher rates of attendance compared to the door-to-door method. Read more in Malaria Journal.

“The program is shifting to [a community point distribution] approach to ensure all households have equitable access to an LLIN [long-lasting insecticide-treated net]. . . the distances that community-based volunteers had to walk when distributing LLINs door-to-door lead the process to take longer than the required time and the cost involved in distributing nets door-to-door was high compared to fixed point distribution.”
–Ketty Ndhlovu-Sichalwe, principal insecticide-treated nets officer, National Malaria Elimination Centre, Lusaka, Zambia

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