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.
In the news
Looking at the progress of malaria over the last thirty years, Healio points to drug resistance as the greatest threat to continued success against the disease. To maintain momentum, they argue that improvements in infrastructure, as well as continued development of new insecticides and anti-malaria drugs are essential and urge not to place too much hope in a vaccine.
Nepal is aiming to eliminate malaria by 2022 and become certified malaria-free by the World Health Organization by 2026. On MalariaMatters.org, JPhiego’s Emmanuel Le Perru outlines how interventions such as vigilant surveillance, targeting high-risk groups, and mass drug administration will get them there.
“This expansion could have big implications for nearly every global health NGO in the world…even if they themselves do not receive US funds directly…pretty much every health care provider in some of the poorest places on the planet will be affected by this rule.” UN Dispatch provides an “In-Depth Analysis” of how President Trump’s version of the Global Gag Rule (which prevents aid organizations from receiving funds if they inform patients about abortion) is more expansive than other administrations, meaning programs that touch every aspect of global health, except for emergency humanitarian relief, will be affected.
Former Wisconsin congressman and US ambassador to Tanzania Mark Green is President Trump’s nominee to run USAID. According to the AP, Green has strong bipartisan support but much remains in question as the fate of the agency has yet to be decided.
NPR’s goats and soda dives into a claim by Trump campaign economic policy adviser Stephen Moore that the US foreign aid budget should be cut because there’s no evidence aid has any effect on development or improving living standards. Experts pushed back saying it’s unclear what exactly causes economic growth and studies looking at the connection between aid and growth have produced mixed results. And when it comes to education and health there are concrete examples of success.
Read the latest on the PATH Blog to learn about PATH’s role in the recent Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo. Together with DRC government officials and groups including the WHO, CDC, and Médecins Sans Frontières, a coordinated response is underway.
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.
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.
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.