Your MACEPA Malaria Minute: Meet your community health worker

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

A team of 15 data collectors were trained in Step E activities in Lusaka last week, the first “elimination survey” to take place in Zambia. Over the coming weeks the teams will visit catchment areas in Zambia’s Southern Province where facilities have recorded little to no malaria cases in the past few years. Using GPS-enabled phones, data collectors will travel to households randomly selected via satellite for the survey. With parental consent, the selected households will undergo a questionnaire and provide blood samples to look for any traces of the malaria parasite that may remain in the population.

Photos: PATH/Stacey Naggiar

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Meet your community health worker

The MACEPA communications team are in Kalomo and Zimba districts, targeting areas with data reporting challenges. By reiterating the importance of quality and timely data during clinic meetings with community health workers, including sharing data dashboards for their catchment area and for neighboring ones, it is hoped that improved reporting will emerge. This engagement is also an opportunity to sensitize communities to Step D: community-level investigation of passive and active malaria cases. With support from the National Malaria Elimination Centre, the team is meeting with chiefs and conducting village meetings with local drama and music groups to entertain and educate the audience about malaria prevention.

Photo: PATH/Chilumba Sikombe

Specifically, the village meetings are being used to formally introduce community health workers (CHWs) in an effort to raise their profiles as health service providers and key players in the country-wide effort to eliminate malaria by 2021.

Photo: PATH/Chilumba Sikombe

Photo: PATH/Elizabeth Chiyende

The trip also involves taking portraits of the CHWs that will be made into posters to be displayed at the health facilities, schools, and churches in their areas. The hope is that by raising the profile of CHWs within their own communities, people will feel comfortable seeking them out for care if malaria symptoms present and submitting to malaria testing even in the absence of symptoms. In order for districts to record zero malaria cases and earn the status of a malaria-free zone, every last case must be tracked and treated.

Photo: PATH/Elizabeth Chiyende

Photo: PATH/Elizabeth Chiyende

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