By Sarah Pickersgill
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
The manager of the Senegal Programme National de Lutte contre le Paludisme (PNLP), Doudou Sene, met with MACEPA leadership to discuss Senegal’s successes in malaria control and their ongoing commitment to malaria elimination. Senegal was recently recognized, together with five other countries on the continent, with the ALMA Award for Excellence for its strong commitment to and leadership in the malaria fight. During the meetings, the group also reviewed results from MACEPA’s work in Zambia to see what learnings could be applied in Senegal.
Pictured below: Dr. Sene (second from left) with MACEPA’s Duncan Earle, Caterina Guinovart, Yakou Dieye, Hana Bilak, and Aminatou Sar.
When it rains, it pours
Activities in Zambia are in full swing as the rains usher in malaria transmission season. Entomological and operational research for indoor residual spraying (IRS) continues in Siavonga, Gwembe, Pemba, and Choma as spray operators are working in those districts. MACEPA staff and district spray operators are interviewing home owners to better understand local perceptions of the intervention.
Pictured below: Javan Chanda, MACEPA entomological surveillance officer, interviews Hamuguna while her home in Maujoa area, Pemba, is being sprayed.
Pictured above: Javan meets with supervisors to discuss challenges and solutions for the successful implementation of IRS.
Pictured below, left: Mr. and Mrs. Mutapa: “Our family is now protected from malaria. Since our house was sprayed we now sleep peacefully with no disturbances from mosquitoes. Everyone should have their houses sprayed.”
Pictured above, right: Joseph Mweemba, spray operator: “People in this area love IRS. The only challenge is most of them are farmers and so we have to wait for them to return from the field usually around 11:00 to spray their homes.”
Mazabuka data review meeting
This week, over 150 community health workers (CHWs) and health center staff gathered in Mazabuka to review malaria data in their district. Located in Southern Province, Zambia, Mazabuka is one of the districts with the lowest malaria transmission in the province, but that does not mean their work is done. Far from it. At low levels of transmission every case counts, and accurately counting every case is extremely important.
Together with the Ministry of Health, the MACEPA surveillance team is reviewing data with CHWs, identifying and correcting errors, and discussing solutions to specific challenges in reporting accurate and timely data in the district. The district health director also attended the meetings, telling the CHWs that he hopes Mazabuka will be one of the first in the province to eliminate malaria.
Pictured below: Fortune Bwenje, malaria focal point person for Mazabuka, answered questions from CHWs about data collection and reporting. “This data is very valuable” Fortune tells CHWs. “The data is like money, it should be managed well. If we make errors in our data it means our decisions and plans will also have errors.”
Pictured above: Reine Rutagwera, malaria surveillance specialist for MACEPA, reviews the Tableau dashboards for Southern Province with community health workers. She shows that Mazabuka has the lowest burden in the province and congratulates the CHWs on their great work.
Pictured below: Sandi Litia, malaria surveillance officer for MACEPA, checks the passive and active registers with CHWs for errors and discrepancies.
MACEPA is supporting community engagement activities in Southern Province this week. As IRS is being deployed and insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) were recently distributed, it is necessary to sensitize communities about the importance of these interventions. Community meetings, drama groups, song, and dance are all used to engage communities in these malaria elimination efforts.
Pictured left: Lisa Munsanka of Singani Village says, “I have not suffered from malaria for the past four years. My son is now two years and eight months. I was given some medicine during my pregnancy to protect him.”
Pictured right: “The malaria burden in the community is relatively low despite not having MDA [mass drug administration] or IRS. Maybe this can be attributed to good usage of ITN but also our CHWs are very active in following up with an index case reported.” – Mrs. Bertha Sizyongo Muntanga, sister at Kabanze Health Post.
For more pictures and stories like these, check out the MACEPA Instagram feed.
In the news
Research published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases found that adding a blue dye called methylene blue to malaria drugs can help block transmission of malaria from humans to mosquitos, attacking the parasite in the gametocyte stage. One major side effect, however, is that it turns the patients urine blue. Experts worry that this may discourage people from taking the drug. (New York Times, NPR)
Researchers from Radboud University and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine are studying another way to block transmission by using human antibodies. People who have been infected with malaria produce antibodies that can provide protection from further infection, but they can also prevent the spread of malaria as the antibodies destroy the parasites in the mosquito’s stomach. This altruistic immunity, as described in a recent study published in Nature Communications, wouldn’t provide any direct benefit to patients, but could be used to develop a vaccine that would protect the mosquito and therefore everyone that vector would go on to bite. (Reuters Foundation, GEN)
A team of scientists at the IBM Lab in Kenya and Oxford University are studying the application of artificial intelligence technology in the development of malaria strategies. Using AI and cloud computing, researchers can explore multiple iterations of intervention strategies to determine the most effective deployment of resources. (Business Daily)
CureVac, a German biopharmaceutical company, has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop mRNA-based vaccines for influenza and malaria. CureVac has agreed to make any products coming out of this partnership available at an affordable price in developing countries. (Endpoints News)
In Zambia, Southern Province health director Jelita Chinyonga speaks out about mosquito net misuse. She remarked that this challenge is common in areas where fishing activities are high, and the misuse of nets there has led to increased malaria cases. (Lusaka Times)
It was announced last week that a mosquito will be added to the emoji keyboard this summer. The mosquito emoji was proposed last year by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The objective is to make it easier for people to communicate about the public health hazards like malaria, Zika, dengue, and yellow fever. (JHU Hub)
Bill & Melinda Gates answer ten of the toughest commonly asked questions in their 2018 Annual Letter. Read their candid responses in this week’s edition of Gates Notes.