World Malaria Day 2017: Mozambique’s Niassa province launches mass net distribution

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World Malaria Day ceremony, Metangula Village

To mark World Malaria Day on April 25, Niassa province Mozambique held an official launch ceremony for a campaign to distribute long lasting insecticidal nets across the provinces 15 districts. The ceremony was held at the distribution headquarters in Metangula and was attended by district leaders, provincial leaders, civil society organisations and community members.

Activities included the laying of flowers at Heroes’ Square and a march with different civil society players, delivering speeches to spread the message of malaria prevention.

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District administrator Sara Mustafa

The formal distribution of the mosquito nets was initiated by the district administrator, Sara Mustafa, who stressed the importance of using them correctly to a large audience of community members.

Her statements were echoed by Dr. Inês Juleca from the National Malaria Programme of the Ministry of Health, who said, “The distribution campaign needs to be complemented by ongoing mobilisation and awareness raising activities at the local level so it is effective and reduces malaria among the communities the campaign was created to reach.”

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Monica Saíde, mother of five, collecting her mosquito net

Malaria is a major public health issue in Niassa Province, with over 700,000 registered malaria cases in 2016 giving an incidence rate of 407 cases per 1,000 people. The campaign, run by the Ministry of Health and Malaria Consortium, is part of an effort to reduce this burden through wide spread national and local level programmes.

 

The campaign is part of a national initiative led by the Ministry of Health with the support of the Malaria Prevention and Control Project, a project funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and implemented by World Vision as the main partner,  Food for the Hungry, Community Development Foundation and Malaria Consortium.

Text and photos: Xavier Machiana

New drugs could save 25 million children from malaria

smc 4This World Malaria Day is a chance to shine a spotlight on a highly effective intervention that prevents malaria in children under five in the Sahel region of Sub-Saharan Africa – seasonal malaria chemoprevention or SMC. It is an intervention that is about to become even more successful with the introduction of a much more palatable version of the drug that is easier to give to children.

SMC – a World Health Organization recommended intervention – is an antimalarial medicine given to children each month for up to four months of the rainy season, when malaria incidence increases. It provides a high degree of protection, with about 90 percent efficacy and has the potential to reduce cases of malaria by 75 percent when used with other interventions, such as mosquito nets. Unfortunately, however, in its earlier form, hard SMC tablets had to be crushed and mixed with water, while the bitter taste was very unpleasant.

For the first time, during the most recent distribution of the drug, a new sweetened, dispersible formulation of SMC was used. Administering SMC, which used to take close to five minutes, now takes less than 30 seconds and caregivers can easily give children the sweetened medicine at home.

smc 1In 2012, only 3.4 percent of the 25 million children eligible for SMC were covered. After concentrated efforts from the UNITAID funded ACCESS-SMC project, led by Malaria Consortium in partnership with Catholic Relief Services, and other implementing partners and countries, more than 11.4 million children received SMC in 2016, close to 50 percent of the total number of those eligible.

At a joint consultation meeting in Burkina Faso in February this year the feasibility, safety and effectiveness of SMC delivered at scale was proven through the evidence presented. National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCPs) from 12 different SMC eligible countries, key implementing partners, research institutions and others invested in SMC, discussed its future implementation.

Malaria Consortium, with continued funding from UNITAID, will resume its efforts to help NMCPs in Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Chad to administer SMC to four million children.

Studies have demonstrated that the average recurrent cost for a child to receive SMC each year is US $4.27, making this an inexpensive intervention. Although Sahelian governments are committed to eliminating malaria, financial support is still required from development partners.

Strong political will and financial commitment by donors, governments, the pharmaceutical industry and NGOs are essential to avoid the advancements made with SMC – both in health and in subsequent economic improvements – being lost and to ensure that all 25 million eligible children can be reached.

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Malaria volunteer makes health care in “Elephant” village count

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Malaria volunteer, Ma May Theint Oo

Ma May Theint Oo, mother of a four-year old boy called My Myo Thit Naing, has been working as a malaria volunteer in Sin village – which means elephant in Burmese – for six years now. At the weekends she attends Kalay University to finish her degree in history before she turns 25 next year.

To mark World Health Worker Week, this article takes a look at the lifesaving role that health workers such as Ma play in their communities.

riverMa’s village is located 24 miles from Kalay, in western Myanmar’s Sagaing region. To reach the nearest health centre, members of her community must travel seven miles, crossing a river by boat and travelling the rest of the way in often extremely high temperatures. In remote rural villages where road conditions are extremely bad, this lack of access to vital health services can prove fatal for children under five, as receiving care in the first 24 hours after onset of symptoms is crucial. Even if they survive, the recovery may be significantly longer, leading to more time for the child out of school and the parent off from work. Malaria Consortium has been piloting an approach called iCCM, or integrated community case management. This approach combines diagnosis and treatment of three common childhood illnesses malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, while adding diagnosis for malnutrition, and brings health care to the villagers’ doorsteps.

Malaria volunteers such as Ma can bring prevention, diagnosis and treatments services into the heart of remote communities such as Sin, and thereby act as a link between their village and the official health system.

The network of malaria volunteers in remote rural communities was established by the Ministry of health and Sports to help to prevent, track, diagnose and treat malaria cases. By building on this existing network and adding new iCCM responsibilities to the volunteer’s work, Ma can now treat more illnesses besides malaria, which is becoming less prevalent, and thereby remain  useful to her community.

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Midwife Daw Yi Yi Aung

Providing iCCM training for the volunteers and their supervisors – health assistants and midwives – is crucial for the success of the project. The training for the volunteers focuses on how to diagnose malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition, how to administer treatments, and in severe cases, how to refer patients to health centres for acute care.

“I learnt how to treat common illnesses such as diarrhoea and fever and I can now give the right treatment. I also know how to accurately count the child’s breathing rate and to organise a follow-up visit. If the illness is severe, I can refer to the hospital,” Ma explains.

Midwife Daw Yi Yi Aung from the nearest rural health centre supervises Ma and helps her to correct any mistakes. “I truly believe Ma can be successful in her work. One of the mothers told me that she’s very satisfied because her child can get immediate treatment and she doesn’t need to cross the river anymore.”

The supervision is of great help to Ma. “At first I didn’t understand the medicines and their use, but now I am confident I can use them correctly.”

Thanks to her additional iCCM responsibilities, Ma’s status within Sin village has been given a boost. “The parents trust and rely on me and come to me for quick treatment so they are very grateful,” she smiles.

The project is a pilot to demonstrate the feasibility of re-training malaria volunteers to deliver iCCM, and initial results are promising. The project has been successful in improving the health of vulnerable and children under five, and reducing the time spent travelling to seek health services.

familySpeaking of the project, Ma said, “Now parents don’t need to travel as often to the hospital. This is very expensive for people with financial problems. I can give care and medicines to the villagers at no cost thanks to the project.”

When asked about her own future she replies, “I would like to find government work as a teacher, alongside my volunteer’s responsibilities, to continue sorting the difficulties of my community members and provide them with health services.”

The iCCM project is funded by UK aid from the UK Government and Vitol Foundation.

Recognising community health workers this World Health Day and World Health Worker Week

Mobile malaria worker, Dom Sophat, teaches people at risk of malaria about the disease in O'svay by the Laos/Cambodia border (Photo: Luke Duggleby) Mobile malaria worker, Dom Sophat, teaches people at risk of malaria about the disease in O'svay by the Laos/Cambodia border (Photo: Luke Duggleby)

To mark the fourth annual World Health Worker Week as well as World Health Day on Friday 7, this article reflects on global health care and recognises the important work community health workers (CHWs) are doing around the globe.

CHWs play a vital role in extending healthcare to rural communities around the world and are often the first point of call for rural communities who lack access to formal healthcare facilities.

Their responsibilities often include educating people about preventive health measures, caring for pregnant women and new born babies and children under five, as well as diagnosing and treating common infectious diseases and childhood illnesses, such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.

By providing basic health services at the community level, CHWs also act as a vital link between remote communities and the formal healthcare system. This allows the referral of serious cases to health facilities, ongoing supervision from formal health workers, and improved health reporting.

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Malaria volunteer Ma May Thient Oo

Myanmar: In Sin ‘Elephant’ village, Myanmar, mother of four, Ma May Thient Oo has also been serving her community as a malaria volunteer for the past six years. For the people in Ma’s community, this is an important service. To reach the nearest health centre, they must travel for miles, crossing a river by boat and walking the rest of the way in often extremely high temperatures, which is both expensive and difficult.

To improve health in her community, Ma received training and expanded her services to provide education, diagnoses and treatment, not just for malaria, but also malnutrition, pneumonia and diarrhoea. She can count breathing rates and identify symptoms of common illnesses in her community and only refers people to the health centres when she identifies severe illnesses that she cannot treat.

Village malaria worker Thy Sambath (Photo: Luke Duggleby)

Cambodia:  In Tun Village in northern Cambodia, village malaria worker, Thy Sambath, provides free malaria education, testing and treatment to people in his community. He is a volunteer that wants to improve the health of his people, particularly those who live, work or travel in forest areas and have the highest risk of malaria.

Thy visited the Sreynoeunn family after learning both daughters, aged four and 11, had developed strong fevers. He conducted malaria tests on the girls which both turned out to be positive. Thy then provided the girls with treatment and educated the family about the importance of using mosquito nets while sleeping. Thanks to Thy both girls made full recoveries.

Village Health Team member Ali Karim Bagyanyi

Uganda:  Ali Karim Bagyanyi is a Village Health Team member in Kitengule village in Uganda. In this role he provides education as well as free testing for malaria and pneumonia.

In a recent visit, Ali tested a 17 month old girl and four year old boy who had been brought there after developing diarrhoea, fevers and a cough. Both children tested negative for malaria and pneumonia and received appropriate referrals to be treated for their diarrhoea.

It is estimated that half of the nine million children who died in 2015 had illnesses that could have been easily prevented, or diagnosed and treated if they had access to health care services. However, there is currently a global shortage of over seven million health workers and that shortage is set to rise to almost 13 million by 2035. If we are to achieve universal health coverage we must increase investment in community health workers. This World Health Worker Week and World Health Day, join us in supporting health workers around the world.

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Good health for all: a crucial road to gender equality

By 2030, we will ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’: these are the words used by global leaders to coin Goal 5 of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.  Today, 8th March 2017, Malaria Consortium is celebrating International Women’s Day together with the global community to show our support for a gender equal world.
Empowering women on a global scale requires a cross-cutting approach, tackling areas that we may not always consider as exerting a direct influence on gender inequality. One issue that has been frequently overlooked as an empowerment mechanism is improvement in global health systems.

The inadequacies of health infrastructure in the world’s most underdeveloped regions has an overwhelmingly and disproportionately high impact on women [1],[2]. Poor or lacking health services lie at the beginning of a long chain of problems contributing to gender inequality.

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Tania Morais, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Malaria Consortium, Mozambique, with women members of a community-based organisation

The absence of health infrastructure reinforces poor health; poor health reinforces poverty; poverty reinforces gender inequality. For example, poor health often causes additional economic pressure on a family which can result in girls being taken out of school, or to women staying home to care for sick children rather than work. It can also lead to lasting disability due to pregnancy and childbirth.  These are just some of the ways in which poor health among the poorest and most vulnerable impacts on women in particular, resulting in women being less educated, less economically independent and less empowered than their male counterparts.

And this develops into a cycle, with gender inequality also reinforcing poor health.  Women are, in many regions, not permitted responsibility for decision-making and must seek permission to receive healthcare for their children and themselves from their male counterparts.  In many regions, where men only allow their female family members to seek treatment from women health workers who may be few and far between, this has serious consequences on women’s health and empowerment.

So how has Malaria Consortium worked to combat this gap? In our programmes to tackle malaria and other communicable diseases, we ensure women are both consulted and represented as a critical element of our targeted beneficiaries.  One particularly effective intervention that we use is integrated community case management (iCCM) for common childhood illnesses – pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria, and nutrition.  iCCM involves working with and training people within the community to diagnose and treat these diseases, thereby addressing the challenges of access to quality healthcare. Malaria Consortium has supported ministries of health to train and equip community health workers in iCCM in Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, Zambia and Uganda to diagnose and treat or refer sick newborns and severe cases to the nearest health facility.  Through iCCM, we also help to raise the social status of women by training female community health workers, a positive step recognised by WHO [3], which also increases access to health services for many more women and their children.

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Community health worker visits a mother, concerned that her child may have pneumonia, Buliisa District, Uganda

Women make up 69 percent of the community health workers trained through our projects in South Sudan, and around half of our community health workers in Uganda, who are known as ‘true village heroes’ in their communities. Around 30 percent of health workers in Mozambique treating and diagnosing sick children are women, as well as many of our project staff.

By including women health workers in our iCCM training, we have helped to increase significantly their confidence and status among their fellow community members. These women have set an example for their peers. Their work in treating and diagnosing diseases brings life-saving health services closer to people’s homes, freeing mothers from burdens they would otherwise face, such as going to distant health centres, missing out on work, or taking care of sick children.

In recognition of the fact that poverty is one of the primary causes of disease, Malaria Consortium works to bring change to systems that maintain or exacerbate inequality. We are eliminating various barriers to healthcare, including setting up care at community level, involving women in our projects or facilitating access to appropriate healthcare for women at higher level health centres. We bring together all stakeholders, including ministries of health, local leaders and remote communities, to strengthen health systems that are appropriate for the needs of those we aim to serve, so that communities can extract themselves from the cycle of poverty caused by poor health and, in so doing, tackle the associated elements of gender inequality.

As global health priorities falling under Goal 3 of the Global Goals, malaria, communicable diseases and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) cross-cut with Goal 5. Most communicable diseases, NTDs and malaria, are treatable and/or preventable, yet prevail in underdeveloped regions and force economic turmoil on households affected by them. Reducing these diseases is cost-effective and relatively straightforward with sufficient and sustained investment, so Goal 3 should be an easy target to meet, particularly with the support of interventions such as iCCM. This is also highly cost-effective way of empowering women in the long-term.

Certainly, the road to women’s empowerment is more complex than simply reducing disease and providing good healthcare. But it is only with a global understanding of women’s health needs, combined with health infrastructures relevant to their cultural context, that the journey to women’s empowerment will be accelerated.

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[1] p.16-17, The global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescent’s health (2016-2030)

[2] p.54, The global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescent’s health (2016-2030)

[3] p.1, WHO guidelines on health policy and system support to optimize community health worker programmes

Technology to save children’s lives

Mobile health coverage is expanding in Mozambique. Following a successful pilot in a few districts of Inhambane province, the Ministry of Health, in partnership with Malaria Consortium and UNICEF, will scale up an innovative mobile health (mHealth) app-based system to all districts of Inhambane and to the northern province of Cabo Delgado, as part of our new upSCALE project.

In recent years, mobile Health, or mHealth, has emerged as an important innovation with tremendous potential to strengthen health systems in low- and middle-income settings. It achieves this by providing better access to knowledge and information by improving service delivery and reducing response time to crises. Mobile phone coverage is growing rapidly across the world, both in terms of network coverage and the number of users.

upSCALE aims to expand an mHealth system using an interactive mobile android application.  The app provides step-by-step guidance to community health workers, or agentes polivalentes elementares (APEs), in running procedures for diagnosing and treating common diseases that are addressed at community level by trained workers. In September 2016, 258 community health workers were trained on this mHealth system.

Salvador was the oldest among the trainees, demonstrating that age is not a limitation for successfully using modern mobile technology.

“My namAPE SALVADOR PICTe is Salvador Waciquetane. I am 56 years old and I have been doing community health work for many years in Inhambane’s Vilankulo district, community of Chelene. I started to volunteer as a health activist in 2006 and, at the time, I was giving health talks in my community about good health practices. In 2010, I was the one chosen by my community to participate in the training to become an APE, as part of the Ministry of Health revitalisation programme. From the training until today, the people of my community are counting on me to provide basic health care.

Each year, I participate in various refresher trainings; in September, I received a call from my supervisor, Valério, requesting me to come to the district headquarters to participate in a CommCare training, which involves using a mobile phone in my work as an APE. After the phone call, I was curious and I began to imagine that the cell phone would be the same as the ones I saw during the general population census, when I had to map the population of my community. But when the training started, I was very impressed. I saw that the phone is equipped to help me do much more than I had imagined: family planning activities, follow-ups of pregnant women, diagnosing and treating diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia, as well as tracking people with tuberculosis and HIV to refer them to the health centre. I am very happy because this phone is going to help me a lot in my work, as it is easy and it guides the APE well.

“When I return I will meet with my community leader to ask him to arrange a meeting so I can present my new device to the community members. I think they will react very well and this will increase the trust they have. Any novelty is a challenge at first, but as time goes by I will find my way and I will grow to understand it.”

 

Prepared by: Éder Ismael Zerefos

Voices for better health: Mozambique

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A large scale long lasting insecticide-treated net (LLIN) campaign was officially launched by President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi in November last year in an effort to reduce malaria in Mozambique. Many Mozambicans are still falling ill or dying of malaria. In 2014 alone, over five million cases of the disease were diagnosed, leading to over 3000 deaths.

The mass LLIN distribution campaign, supported by Malaria Consortium, is providing over 13 million nets across the country, with the first stage distribution taking place in Nampula and Niassa provinces. We spoke with some of the people involved in the first stage of the distribution to find out how the programme was being received by local communities.

Azelio Fulede MCD Ilha de Mocambique (4)Azélio Fulede, Chief Medical Officer

“The health situation in our district was critical because communities didn’t know how to use mosquito nets. Now, through social mobilisation activities run by community leaders, activists, volunteers, and community radio we are seeing behaviour change and the nets are being used properly.

In our regular visits to the communities, we see that families now hang the nets over their beds, on the porch or wherever they sleep. When we meet people who do not know how to hang the nets, we show them and help them. These are encouraging changes; fewer people are getting malaria and positive messages continue to spread within communities. We hope that fewer people will fall ill and that we will eventually eliminate the disease.”

Emília Corela, cEmiliaampaign supervisor

“I can already see changes in peoples’ behaviour. Everywhere you go you can see mosquito nets being aired in the shade, hanging on the balconies and in bedrooms. These are new scenes, really – you would not have seen this before. I believe that the efforts we made to educate the population about the importance of using nets to protect themselves and their families against malaria, such as advocacy events, lectures in schools, information sessions at community level, are beginning to bear fruit.

On a personal level my involvement in this undertaking has been very rewarding. I gained work experience, lost my shyness, learned more about interacting with people and meeting new people; these skills will also help improve my work.”

Nare Luis PF Erati (3)Naré Luis, focal point for malaria in the Eráti district

“This LLIN distribution campaign was a major challenge for us because it was the first time we covered the entire district, providing nets to over 95 percent of the population.

Malaria is a major health problem in the Eráti district, affecting as many as 60 percent of our people. However through this campaign we are already seeing that there is less malaria. We are now working together with the community health workers, local leaders and radios stations to ensure people know how to use and keep the nets in good condition.”

Francisco Eduardo APE (10)Francisco Eduardo, volunteer community health worker in Mucuegera

“Eighty percent of my work is devoted to community health promotion activities, including village health talks to ensure our community understands how to prevent diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and malaria. The other 20 percent of my time I provide treatment services at either my patients’ homes or my own home.

The net distribution has been an excellent opportunity to show people the correct use of a mosquito net. I notice the difference in my daily home visits. People are hanging the nets and sleeping under them and I have already seen that malaria is reducing! Last year during the rainy season I diagnosed more than 100 malaria cases in only one month, but this year I recorded only 39.

Marcelino Joao MCD Nacala Porto (2)Marcelino Joao, Chief Medical Officer, Nacala Porto district

“Investing in mosquito nets is a guarantee for a long life! Before the distribution campaign, people often used nets for fishing and not for sleeping under. Malaria Consortium trained people from civil society associations and community structures, as well as community health workers, to help mobilise these communities, raise awareness and change behaviour in relation to malaria prevention and the appropriate use and care of mosquito nets. These messages have been reinforced by local radio and television channels which broadcasted the messages intensively during the campaign.

Through these efforts, we have already recorded a decrease in cases of malaria. We are very satisfied with the results and we believe quality of life will improve in the district. We will continue to hold regular meetings with local community leaders and to spread correct information about malaria prevention and the appropriate use of mosquito nets.”

Marcelino Melo PF DPSMarcelino de Melo, Provincial Health Directorate of Nampula province

“For the first time we have managed to distribute LLINs to all districts in the province – reaching a total of 1.3 million families with over 3.5 million mosquito nets. We are now focused on strengthening communication via radio, television, posters and leaflets so that people make good use of the nets we distributed.”

LLIN distributions are a key component in the Malaria Prevention and Control project, a country-wide initiative funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and implemented by World Vision as primary partner, Malaria Consortium, Food for the Hungry (FH) and Foundation for Community Development (FDC).

Top five moments of 2016

At Malaria Consortium we continued to work towards achieving our mission throughout 2016. With the support of our donors, partners and collaborators, we helped to improve lives in Africa and Asia through sustainable, evidence-based programmes that combat targeted diseases and promote child and maternal health. See below for a few of our highlights of 2016.

1) 6.4 million children receive seasonal malaria chemoprevention

Access smc

We continued to transform the malaria landscape in the Sahel through our ACCESS-SMC project that administers seasonal malaria chemoprevention. Funded by UNITAID, ACCESS-SMC treated approximately 6.4 million children during the 2016 campaign, including 88 percent of children under five years old.

 

2) Transforming Nigeria’s health sector 

Long lasting insecticide net demonstration

Long lasting insecticide net demonstration

The Department for International Development funded ‘Support to National Malaria Programme’ or SuNMaP concluded in 2016. This ground breaking eight-year project, led by Malaria Consortium, took an innovative approach to strengthening the country’s management of malaria at both state and federal level, harmonising intervention efforts and vastly improving demand for and access to malaria services. In addition, the project delivered millions of nets and has already saved an estimated 48,000 lives, which would have been lost to malaria.

3) Malaria Consortium placed as top GiveWell charity

GW_Logo_Standard_300ppi_CMYK (7) Malaria Consortium was selected as a GiveWell top recommended charity for our expertise in delivering seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC). GiveWell is a world-renowned meta-NGO that recommends charities by assessing them on four criteria: effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, transparency, and room for more funding.

 

4) New innovations in the fight against dengue and malaria 

Guppy fish eating mosquito larvae_During an experiment at the press chat

Guppy fish eating mosquito larvae during a presentation in Phnom Penh

We continued to develop and deliver innovative approaches to disease control in 2016. Most notably, our integrated vector management project, which uses larvae-eating guppy fish to reduce mosquito populations, was successful in reducing potentially dengue-carrying mosquito rates by 46 percent in Cambodia’s high risk areas. The project received wide spread recognition for being cost effective, sustainable and easy to implement, making it a suitable intervention for scale up.

In Myanmar, Malaria Consortium established an insecticide-treated clothing (ITC) project to determine the acceptability of ITC for malaria prevention among the key risk groups at the community level, such as rubber tappers. It was the first time this research had been conducted at the community level. Results showed that ITC was easy to use, durable, reduced mosquito bites and also has the potential for scale up.

5) 2016 World Malaria Report 

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Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, at the World Malaria Report launch

Malaria Consortium supported the launch of The World Health Organization’s annual World Malaria Report in the UK at an event co-organised with Malaria No More UK, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, and other leading malaria NGOs. The report contained a range of achievements and detailed the progress made towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. These included a five-fold increase in the recommended three or more doses of preventive treatment for pregnant women and an 80 percent increase in the use of long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets for all populations at risk of malaria.

At the report launch, the UK’s International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, reiterated the UK’s commitment to end malaria and announced an additional £75 million investment to support the development of antimalarial drugs and insecticides.

We look forward to continuing to work with all of our partners and donors throughout 2017 to improve lives and progress towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 

 

 

Uncovering Asian tropical medicine – JITMM 2016

By Kyaw Thura Tun

jitmmThe Joint International Tropical Medicine Meeting 2016 (JITMM) took place this December with the theme ‘Uncover Asian tropical medicine’. The event was a great success, attracting over 800 regional and international participants, the highest attendance in over a decade.

During the conference Malaria Consortium staff presented the organisation’s expertise in innovative research, dengue and surveillance, outlined current regional projects and chaired group sessions.

Notable events included Malaria Consortium Asia Director Siddhi Aryal chairing the session ‘Meeting the challenge of outdoor transmission of malaria’. The session was extremely informative and featured presentations from World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Response to Artemisinin Resistance Hub, Institute of Tropical Medicine of Antwerp Belgium and Infakara Health Institute of Tanzania. The WHO Emergency Response to Artemisinin Resistance Hub presentation by Michael MacDonald was a particular standout as he explained new paradigms for outdoor malaria transmission control, which showed options and opportunities moving from concept to programme implementation in the contexts of the Greater Mekong Sub-region. 

jitmm-2Other Malaria Consortium presentations included Vanney Keo and Dyna Doum’s dengue related presentations about the situation in Cambodia and Shafique Muhammad’s session entitled ‘Malaria elimination: Mobile populations and behaviour changes’. This session – with presentations from Malaria Consortium, Bureau of Vector Borne Disease of Thailand and Raks Thai Foundation – attracted an array of stakeholders and partners with an interest in more effective and regional behaviour changes among mobile populations.

On the final day of the conference, I presented ‘Improved surveillance towards malaria elimination in Myanmar’. The presentation detailed how the National Malaria Control Programme project, supported by Malaria Consortium, filled gaps in capacity and surveillance, and how data gathering and data accessibility has improved greatly. In particular, I explained why our approach and the consolidation of data at all levels, including townships, states and regional levels, is so appropriate to Myanmar.

jitmm-3JITMM is the most notable annual event for the tropical medicine community in Asia, bringing a wide range of researchers, scientists, lecturers, programme managers, implementers, students, donors and policy makers from around the world. This meeting was one of the opportunities for Malaria Consortium to present our work to the region and the world. I was glad to see such a great turn out and high quality presentations, not just from Malaria Consortium staff, but the whole community. I look forward to returning in 2017.

Meet the recipients of Mozambique’s largest ever mosquito net distribution

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By Dorca Nhaca

On 3rd November 2016 the Ministry of Health, Mozambique, launched the largest ever distribution of mosquito nets. In total over 13 million long lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLIN) will be distributed throughout the country – an important step to reducing the burden of malaria.

Malaria Consortium has supported the roll out of this mass distribution in the most populous province of the country, Nampula, located in the north of the country, delivering LLINs to protect over five million people.

As a consultant on the project, I travelled the Nampula province monitoring and supporting distribution efforts. The importance of this project was clear during my visits to various districts. Everywhere I went people converged en masse to the distribution points and were eager to get mosquito nets to protect their families.

I managed to speak with some of the recipients about the project and what it means for their families. This is what they told me:

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Mrs Gracinda Francisco, Monapo district

“Today I received two mosquito nets and I am very happy because my family will be protected from mosquito bites. The mosquito causes malaria which is a disease that makes us very weak. Before receiving these nets, the situation was very complicated in our home because we only had one old net to share with our son. The net was old and damaged and the mosquitos could easily enter through the holes. We had a terrible time because our home is close to the Monapo River which brings a lot of mosquitoes. People are constantly sick. Last month, my son fell ill and had to be admitted in hospital for treatment. I was worried because he is still very small. He is doing better now and these nets will help a lot to prevent malaria in my family.”

calima-primeiro-1Calima Primeiro, Rapale district
“I am very happy to have received these nets. It will greatly improve malaria care at home. The people in my neighborhood have suffered a lot from malaria and we have also suffered from this disease in our home. We had not used mosquito nets for a long time. A few weeks ago, I myself got malaria and I was very resentful because I was very weak and could not walk or work on the farm. We are currently in the agricultural season where we sow corn, peanuts and other crops, so my sickness caused a difficult situation. The children who live with me could not go to the farm because they had to take care of me. I had to stay home and could not do anything for about eight days. After this, my daughter and grand-daughter became sick with malaria and I had to take them to the hospital for treatment. This was a big learning experience for me: we got sick because we did not protect ourselves.

The government came at the right time to help us fight this disease. I know that malaria is dangerous and a killer disease. Now, if we use the mosquito net we can not only avoid getting sick, but also avoid spending money for the medicines and use this money for other things. So, I and my family will use the mosquito nets so we don’t get bitten by mosquitoes.”

valentim-antonio-cidade-nampula-2Valentim Daniel António, Nampula City
“I started using a mosquito net in 2010 when my wife became sick with malaria. At the time, she was pregnant. Besides not having the financial means to buy a mosquito net, we did not realise the importance of nets, because we thought that if we got sick we could just go to the hospital and get treated. But this time it was different. My wife was so sick that she had to be admitted to hospital while she was pregnant; she became very weak and had to take intravenous drugs. Luckily my wife got better and when she left the hospital, the nurse who cared for her asked us if we had a net at home and we said no. She gave a net to my wife and advised us to always use the net because malaria can be deadly. When we got home, we started using the net, but my kids did not because we had only one.

I bought two more nets for my children and nephews but after several years they developed holes and I could not replace them, but today, I received three new nets, and I want to thank the government.

I say with great pride that I use the mosquito net to protect my family’s health against malaria. If this net gets spoiled, then I will buy replacements. I am pleased to be a part of those benefiting from mosquito nets and I have been mobilising my family, friends and neighbors to use the mosquito net because it protects us from the mosquito bite that causes malaria – it is really worth it.”

pTrucks loaded with nets are sent to distribution centres around Nampulap
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Dorca Nhaca is a consultant to Malaria Consortium in its Nampula Office, Mozambique

This undertaking is part of a nation-wide initiative lead by the Ministry of Health with support from the Malaria Prevention and Control project, a country-wide initiative funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and implemented by World Vision as primary partner, Malaria Consortium, Food for the Hungry (FH) and Foundation for Community Development (FDC).