By Sarah Pickersgill
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
Let the surveys begin!
Fresh from a week of training, field teams are in action across Zambia, part of the country’s sixth Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS). Each group is headed to a different corner of the country to conduct a household survey and women’s questionnaire, and to test for malaria in children, treating cases as they find them. Survey collection should be completed around the third week of May.
Look at all that orange! MACEPA staff from around the globe traveled to Lusaka in order to support this giant operation. Belendia Serda, pictured below, helps a surveyor use the new data collection app being rolled out this year. Participants familiarize themselves with the app, trying to establish a signal within a few meters of their location.
Njaya (below, right), a nurse from Northwestern Province, will headed to Western Province with her team. On the importance of the MIS, Njaya said, “We are finding out how many people have nets and how many people are using them. And this will help improve the planning and distribution.”
Senegal: Charting the path to malaria elimination
MACEPA is excited to announce a new report “Senegal: Charting the path to malaria elimination” produced in partnership with Senegal’s National Malaria Control Program, Zero Palu!, and Speak Up Africa. Read the full report at MalariaFreeSenegal.com.
Less than two decades ago, malaria accounted for one-third of outpatient visits nationwide. But today, Senegal has one of the lowest malaria case incidence rates in West Africa and is one of the only countries in which that rate continues to fall, with a 30 percent reduction in cases between 2015 and 2016. This progress was recently noted by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), which recognized Senegal for its exemplary leadership against malaria, even as regional and global progress against malaria remain stalled. In fact, Senegal’s progress has been so pronounced that there are now several northern districts where local transmission has been nearly wiped out, and where elimination appears to be an achievable near-term goal.
Senegal’s substantial and sustained progress against malaria is an inspiring public health success story, and a source of potential lessons for other countries on the path to elimination. This report describes three major success factors:
- Outstanding leadership and partner engagement.
- The achievement and maintenance of high intervention coverage levels.
- A thriving data culture.
The report also explores several exciting new opportunities to consolidate and expand upon Senegal’s two decades of impact.
Strategic planning marathon in Zambia
In developing Zambia’s business plan to eliminate malaria, public and private sector leaders from across the country gathered in Lusaka late last month to discuss sustaining funds and momentum toward eliminating the disease. The minster of health, Chitalu Chilufya, was the guest of honor, while the health services permanent secretary, Jabbin Mulwanda, served as emcee. In his introductory remarks, Dr. Mulwanda addressed those who questioned the country’s decision to pursue elimination, saying “If 100 percent is too much then tell me, which lives are you willing to sacrifice?”
Malaria personnel from the provinces convened to finalize the national communications strategic plan set to launch on World Malaria Day. Provincial and district staff shared their experiences on how best to improve health communications in their areas and across the nation.
Another marathon to take on malaria
Lace up your trainers! The Lusaka Lafarge Marathon this year is helping Zambia accelerate to eliminate malaria. Partnering with the National Malaria Elimination Programme and PATH, Lafarge has announced the theme for this year’s race: “Malaria Ends With Me: Beat the Buzz.” Raise awareness about malaria elimination efforts in Zambia while staying fit at a range of distances: 5k, 10k, 21k, or full 42k marathon.
The event will take place on May 26, 2018. Register at http://www.lusakamarathon.com/.
In the news
NPR asks, what if a pesky mosquito that sips some of your blood, hours later, drops dead, poisoned by the very blood it just slurped down? According to a new study published by the Lancet Infectious Diseases, adding ivermectin can kill the mosquitoes that feed on humans for at least 28 days after the start of treatment. (The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine)
With only six cases of polio reported this year The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is eyeing its next goal: eradicating malaria. But Robert Fortner and Alex Park question the merits and price tag associated with achieving this goal. Could eradication funds be better used to strengthen health systems to manage the burden of multiple diseases, including malaria? Important questions. (Undark)
In a new study, scientists from the Sanger Institute applied single-cell sequencing to individual malaria parasites and achieved the highest resolution view of malaria parasites to date. These results are the first step toward developing the Malaria Cell Atlas, a data resource that will provide gene activity profiles of individual malaria parasites throughout their lifecycle. (Global Health Newswire)
A double header from Bill Brieger on Tropical Health Matters. World Health Day was April 7 and the theme this year: universal health coverage. Brieger discusses where malaria fits into this agenda and how, in terms of malaria, universal health coverage needs to go beyond distributing one net for every two persons. Global Health Day 2018 sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Global Health featured a poster presentation on research by the Southern Africa International Centers of Excellence in Malaria Research, the JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Macha Research Trust on Improving the efficacy of reactive screen-and-treat for malaria elimination in southern Zambia. The study concluded that screening for secondary households could be optimized by using indicators such as the presence of animal pens or streams as environmental guiding tools.
A new study from the National Institute of Health has presented a possible explanation on why iron can worsen malaria infections. The researchers found that extra iron interferes with ferroportin, a protein that prevents a toxic buildup of iron in red blood cells and helps protect these cells against malaria infection. Further studies into ferroportin show that some mutant forms may actually help protect against malaria. (Science Daily)
For a laugh, check out the latest video from the “Malaria Must Die So Millions Can Live Campaign” featuring several British celebrities including the Dame Helen Mirren and James Corden swatting away persistent mosquitoes. (The Independent)
Hosted in Accra, Ghana, a consortium of cross-sector malaria initiatives including groups from Johns Hopkins, UK Aid, and GBCHealth, presented awards to companies combating malaria on the continent. Access Bank won the Innovation in Malaria Financing award with its Malaria to Zero initiative that leverages innovative financing technology and media tools to accelerate the impact of malaria behavior change programs reaching 2 million Nigerians in grassroots and under-served communities across Nigeria. (Daily Trust)
The Guardian takes a detailed look at the one town in Cambodia that has the world on high alert about drug-resistant malaria. Learn more about Pailin and the challenge that still remains for scientists to explain why drug-resistant malaria strains are continually found there.
In west and central Africa, 80 percent of children with HIV are not receiving antiretroviral therapy, making it the region with the world’s lowest rate of access to that type of treatment. LA Times reporter Sioban O’Grady draws attention to the lack of focus international aid is placing on this region of Africa. In recent years, almost five times as much money was invested in HIV/AIDS response in east and southern Africa than in west and central Africa.
The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund, an international partnership between the Japanese government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the United Nations Development Program, and multiple pharmaceutical companies, recently announced that it has devoted approximately $15.5 million to advance investigational drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for neglected tropical diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria. This includes a $3.2 million grant to continue the development of a new malaria vaccines. (Healio)