Your MACEPA Malaria Minute: Stakeholder meetings in the valley districts of Zambia’s Southern Province

In the last Malaria Minute, we told you a little about stakeholder meetings that took place in the Gwembe, Sinazongwe, and Siavonga districts of Zambia. These meetings shared certain commonalities to community engagement activities conducted in the past—around 150 people in attendance, a communal lunch, and the strong presence of district and traditional leadership. What sets these more recent community engagement activities apart is the orientation around a participatory activity designed to solicit feedback from the community members themselves.

Those who attended the meeting were divided into five groups of 30 and asked to respond to questions about malaria. They were also tasked with creating an action plan to address challenges in their community and presenting that plan to the larger group. Some similar themes ran across all the districts, such as the frustration that IRS sprayers are not recruited directly from the communities they serve. Other concerns were unique to individual communities (e.g., specific religious leaders encouraging their congregants not to take malaria prevention and treatment drugs). 

Photo: PATH/Chelsea Montes de Oca

This pilot project yielded useful feedback about the individual challenges facing these communities. Insights from these meetings will inform strategy at the national level and plans to scale this approach to other high-burden areas of Southern Province are on the horizon. Another novel approach to these meetings was the engagement of local journalists to attend and cover these events. To see the Manchanvwa community meeting in Siavonga in action, click here.

The importance of SBCC

MACEPA staff in Senegal made some interesting discoveries during a recent field visit to the Nguith village, about 300 kilometers outside Dakar, where the team came across Mr. Mangane and his nephew Birane. Mr. Mangane works and lives in Dakar with his family so Birane sleeps alone in the house in Nguith. When they received eight mosquito nets in 2016, they put the extra nets to use in a creative way, covering open spaces and doors to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house.

All of these discoveries highlight the importance of SBCC activities in curbing misuse of mosquito nets and engaging high-risk groups in malaria control activities. While some may regard Mr. Mangane’s use of extra nets as an example of misuse, others have promoted this approach as a positive way to re-purpose old nets. His example also highlights the ingenuity of community members to protect themselves from malaria.

Making the investment case

An RBM Finance delegation visited Lusaka this week. In addition to meetings with the Ministry of Health, the National Malaria Elimination Programme and partners, they convened a private sector meeting to get feedback on the opportunities and barriers to investment in Zambia’s malaria elimination agenda. There was representation from the mining and banking sectors, as well as commodity distributors and rotary. Stay tuned next week for more on this visit which included the launch of the End Malaria Council, the first-ever at country level.

Your questions about Italy’s GMO mosquito experiment, answered

Genetically modified mosquitoes and their potential to fight malaria have been prominent topics in the news recently. As scientists research the impact of this approach, NPR has been on the ground covering the story. When they asked readers to share their questions about this topic, they received nearly 300 submissions. In this article, journalist Rob Stein answers some of those questions on the science behind this potential breakthrough and its possible consequences.

Promising new bednet strategy to zap malaria parasites in mosquitoes

While you’re there, check
out another NPR story covering research out of Harvard on a new strategy for mosquito nets.

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