By Sarah Pickersgill
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
PATH’s got team spirit!
The Lusaka Lafarge Marathon was held on May 26 and Team PATH brought their A-game. Running to “Beat the Buzz,” PATH staff came to support efforts to raise malaria elimination on the national agenda. Over 2,000 participants registered for the event—participating in a range of events from a 5k health walk to a full marathon. Congratulations to all who participated!
More pictures from the event can be found on the NMEC Facebook page!
Best practice on case investigation—MACEPA Ethiopia
Check out this film from MACEPA Ethiopia, which introduces PATH-MACEPA’s achievements in controlling and eliminating malaria, specifically its project in Eastern Gojjam, Amhara National Regional State. The documentation was financed by the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) through the Federal Ministry of Health. The Ethiopian Civil Societies Health Forum, intending to select two of its member organizations for outstanding practices, sent an evaluating team to candidates’ project sites. The evaluating team, in an impartial and objective assessment, recommended PATH and the decision was made to document its best practice.
Malaria indicator surveyors return
As part of Zambia’s recently completed sixth Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS), groups of surveyors conducted household surveys and women’s questionnaires, and tested for malaria in children, treating cases as they found them. Agnes (pictured below), a team leader for the Malaria Indicator Survey, recently returned from Copperbelt Province, Zambia. Agnes led a team of five people all across the province; two nurses, two lab techs, and one mapper. Although it was a lot of work, Agnes reported that it was very interesting and important.
“Being a team player was a big part. The people I was working with were from different parts of the country. This was the first time I was working with them. I have to embrace what they brought to the table and also they have to embrace what I bring. So it was a two-way thing. But the main thing here was the patients. When we have a common goal, it is very easy to accommodate each other. Because we knew what we were there for.”
Agnes also remarked on being surprised at how much malaria her team encountered in the province, in contrast to her previous perception of the area. Many of the positive tests completed were from asymptomatic patients.
Communities and their health workers
MACEPA is leading several community engagement meetings in Southern Province this week. In support of community malaria case management, MACEPA is ensuring that community members get a chance to meet their community health workers (CHWs) and better understand the services they provide.
Pictured below: CHWs being introduced to community members in Siachitema, Southern Province.
Pictured left: Alfonsina Miyanda, a data CHW from Kalomo. “I am encouraged when I receive reports from other CHWs because it shows how much we are doing, especially when malaria-positive cases are few.”
Pictured right: Chipeta Veronica from Nkandanzovu Rural Health Center. “There was an outbreak of malaria cases last month (April). We were seeing, on average, 20 confirmed cases daily. Luckily we didn’t experience stock outs for RDTs [rapid diagnostic tests] or ACTs [artemisinin-based combination therapy] as we ordered in advance from the district.”
In the news
Despite their enormous impact on reducing the malaria burden, mosquito nets are not doing as much as they could for local economies. Thirteen companies dominate the billion-dollar industry of manufacturing and distributing nets, and only three have factories in Africa. Experts argue that shifting production to malaria-ravaged nations would help struggling economies and thus indirectly improve public health. (PassBlue)
Heard talk of CRISPR? Or “gene-drive?” Vox takes an in-depth look at these technologies that scientists are using to “remake” mosquitoes to fight malaria. Check out this piece for the science, ethics, and implications behind these tools.
Last week concluded the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, where delegates from around the world made commitments to various public health issues such as polio, nutrition, digital health, and more. Closing the assembly, the director-general of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated the 2023 targets: 1 billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage; 1 billion more people better protected from health emergencies; and 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well being. (PAHO)
Check out this awesome photo essay following Rosa and her fight against malaria in Mozambique. (ISGlobal)
Scientists at the Kenya Medical Research Institute have found that dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP), a second line treatment for malaria, is actually superior in preventing malaria in pregnancy to the commonly used Fansidar. Researchers are hoping to expand trials to ten sites in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi. (AllAfrica)
Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS) data in Malawi show progress in the malaria fight. Although access to life-saving interventions like insecticide-treated nets is up, usage rates are increasing at a slower pace. This data is essential in understanding the profile of malaria in Malawi and will enable more strategic planning to end the disease for good. (MalariaMatters)
Researchers from California are developing a device to test malaria based on the magnetic properties of a patient’s blood. The malaria parasite produces tiny crystals inside infected red blood cells, which have a magnetic property. The device works by shining a laser light through a drop of blood, measuring how much light is transmitted, and then holding the magnet close to the blood sample and taking another measurement. This device, due to its simplicity, could be an inexpensive and valuable tool. (NPR)
More on diagnostics: Two scientists from the University of Calgary are working on a diagnostic test for drug resistant malaria. The test is extremely sensitive, up to 1,000 times more sensitive than traditional tests involving the use of labs and microscopes. Their DNA-based test can detect drug resistance at the molecular level which allows for early diagnosis and treatment. Using similar technology, this team from Calgary has also developed a test for low-level malaria infections. (UToday)
Stanbic IBTC, a member of the Standard Bank Group, has joined the malaria fight. As part of their activities to commemorate World Malaria Day, Stanbic distributed treated mosquito nets to school children in the Makoko, Yaba, area of Lagos, Nigeria. (Vanguard)
Interested in data visualizations? Check out this blog from Dark Horse Analytics about why you should avoid the 3D pie or bar charts at all cost in the series, Remove to Improve—the pie chart edition.