Author Archives: Alexandra York

Reducing the risk of malaria in pregnancy in Uganda – observations from the field

Alany and Majole are South Sudanese women living in refugee camps in West Nile province, Northern Uganda. Both are pregnant.

I met Alany and Majole as I travelled to a rural health facility, where they were attending their first antenatal care (ANC) visit.  The midwife sat with each of the women and gave them a basic health education lesson. Then there were the physical examinations, followed by the provision of required medicines for their stage of pregnancy – including intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) to reduce the risk of malaria for themselves and their babies. Before they returned home under the shelter of their sun umbrella, they were each given a mosquito net to protect them further from malaria. These last two aspects of the ANC visit are especially important since pregnant women are at increased risk of malaria – as are their unborn babies.

Malaria in pregnancy (MIP) is a significant public health threat which affects more than 30 million pregnant women each year in malaria-endemic areas. It poses substantial risks to mother and unborn child, including maternal anaemia, stillbirth, miscarriage and low birth weight – a leading cause of child mortality. To prevent malaria infections among pregnant women living in areas of moderate or high transmission, the World Health Organization recommends IPTp, a full therapeutic course of antimalarial medicine given to pregnant women regardless of whether or not they are infected with malaria.

Uganda’s Malaria Control Strategic Plan identifies IPTp as one of three main elements to prevent MIP. It is delivered as part of the focused ANC package and has been implemented countrywide since 2002. Yet, despite having made significant progress, Uganda is far from meeting the government’s target of 85 percent of pregnant women receiving two doses of IPTp by the end of 2015. In 2014-15, less than half of pregnant women in Uganda received two or more doses of IPTp, despite overall one time ANC attendance being 94 percent in Uganda.

What we are doing about it

To explore the factors that continue to impede IPTp uptake, Malaria Consortium is leading a research project to assess and address barriers to pregnant women taking IPTp in Uganda. The study is conducted through COMDIS-HSD, a Research Programme Consortium, and also through our programme partnership arrangement  with funding from the UK government.

We discovered a range of barriers. In particular, health workers were found to have mixed knowledge of IPTp guidelines with regard to dosage, timing, and frequency. They did not always offer IPTp and encourage pregnant women to take it, at times incorrectly judging them to be ineligible.

Based on these findings, we designed a pilot intervention to align with the Ministry of Health training programme on MIP. This pilot intervention is being implemented in West Nile province, complementing the standard training course on MIP by sending daily reminder text messages for five weeks, summarising the key points relating to IPTp of the training. The intervention is being implemented in eight health facilities. A neighbouring district acts as control with a further eight health facilities receiving the training but not the text messages.

How things are progressing

With the text messages having been sent out in June and July, I travelled to Uganda to check up on progress and to gain a better understanding of the project sites. I also visited health facilities in the study districts to observe how things are managed and the processes involved in an ANC visit.  This will feed into the evaluation of the pilot intervention in December, which will also look at data on ANC attendance, IPTp doses, IPTp stock levels, as well as follow up with a random sample of pregnant women who visited the health facilities for their ANC visits.  In preparation for this evaluation, I looked at all of the ANC registers and other records in close detail. I met with health facility staff to ask questions about their ANC clinics – roughly how many pregnant women they see, and how many midwives they have. I also met with some of the midwives to discuss ANC services they provide, specifically relating to malaria.

The visit was a great opportunity to see the hard work going into protecting pregnant women from malaria in West Nile. The pregnant women who visit these clinics return home better equipped to protect themselves and their babies from malaria.

By observing visits and discussing with staff at the ANC clinics, I could see first-hand some of the challenges and barriers to uptake of IPTp and other malaria control measures. For example, some steps of the process are not completed as they should be; medicines which should be taken at the health facility and in front of the midwife are being given to women to take at home at a later time; and shortages of some medicines and of ANC cards have led to difficulties administering the drugs and making sure women attend all of their ANC appointments on the correct dates.

However these obstacles are not insurmountable – and with further study and appropriate action they can be overcome. Obstacles such as these which get in the way of pregnant women receiving the best possible prevention and treatment from malaria are the motivation for studies such as the IPTp study in Uganda, as well as our other work in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Georgia Gore-Langton is the COMDIS-HSD Research Officer at Malaria Consortium in London.

Seasonal malaria chemoprevention in Burkina Faso: Feedback from the field

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Malaria Consortium talks to Community Health Worker (CHW), Ipala Zidwemba, about his experience of administering SMC in the rural district of Boulsa, Burkina Faso.

“The CHWs are the people who bring the medication to the children. We are counting on them to ensure that fewer children fall ill with malaria this rainy season,” says Malaria Consortium’s Dr. Eleonore Fosso Seumo, Country Representative, Burkina Faso, as she explains that the role of the CHW is crucial to the successful implementation of the SMC campaign.

Making their way along the orange dusty tracks, Boulsa’s CHWs are easy to spot with their white tabards and kit bags. Their day begins at 6AM when they meet at the Community Health Centre to receive their supply of SP+AQ. By bike, they make their way in pairs through the fields, stopping to distribute the preventive SMC treatment to eligible children.

The role of the CHW is multifaceted: they must communicate effectively with parents, reassure the children and signal any problems and adverse reactions to their supervising health facility worker. All of the CHWs are volunteers who work four days each month over the course of the rainy season to ensure that all eligible children benefit from this preventive treatment with the aim of reducing malaria incidence.

25 year old Ipala Zidwemba is a CHW, working for the first time to bring SMC treatment to eligible children in the village of Gaouga, Boulsa. A maize farmer by trade, Ipala has always lived in Gaouga. He explains that participating in this campaign is very close to his heart having suffered, like the majority of Burkinabés, from malaria at several points in his in life. “We have all had malaria at one point or another, some are lucky but others are not and that is why it is important that we protect the most vulnerable who are the children under five years old,” says Ipala.

While Ipala is hopeful that the SMC campaign will have a positive impact on malaria incidence rates, he recognises that there are several obstacles to the successful delivery of this intervention.

Ipala explains that carrying out an SMC campaign is not easy like other campaigns, such as like the polio vaccination campaign. He explains that administering the polio vaccination consists of squeezing a couple of drops of a sweet tasting liquid into the children’s mouths and within a few seconds the medication has been administered. SMC is different. Before even giving the child the treatment, the CHW must first ask a number of questions in order to establish whether the child is healthy and eligible to receive the first dose of SP+AQ. Once the CHW has determined that the child can receive the treatment, a lengthy preparation process ensues, involving the crushing of drugs and mixing with sugar and water. Due to the bitter taste of the mixture, this is often rejected by the children, particularly by the younger children. In this instance, the CHWs must wait another 10 minutes before attempting to re-administer the mixture. “We really need medication that is adapted to be given to young children and in the conditions that we are working in,” says Ipala. He continues explaining that, once the children have been given the medication; each pair of CHWs must wait 30 minutes to observe whether there are any adverse reactions. Once everything is completed, the paperwork has been filled in and the parents have been shown how to give the remaining doses, they mark the house to show that the children have received the SMC treatment, finally staining each child’s finger nail with a permanent marker, to show that they have had their first dose of SP+AQ. “All of these things make the administration of SMC a lengthy and complicated process!” concludes Ipala.

In addition to problems of administration, the CHWs must also contend with the rains. The nature of the SMC campaign is that the treatment is given each month of the rainy season, as during this time there is an increased risk of malaria. However, with rains come floods which make the work of the CHWs even more complex.

“To ensure maximum coverage and successful roll out at scale of the SMC campaign, it is essential that we develop ways to overcome these obstacles,” Dr. Savadogo Yacouba, NMCP, Burkina Faso.

Empowering village malaria workers in Cambodia: Prevention and control of malaria

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Standing under the shade of a cassava barn is Khem Bou, a 17-year-old mother of two from Kampong Cham province. Every day she sleeps with her children on a makeshift bed made of wooden planks, but this hasn’t driven them away from this temporary home.

“Since it became difficult to find work in my hometown, my husband and I relocated our family to find new opportunities in Pailin province. We found a job on this cassava farm and have been working here for a month. We heard that where we live now is a high risk malaria area, but we have no other choice. Although we do not know much about malaria, we know that if we get sick, there is one village malaria worker nearby who we can seek for advice. We also received these mosquito nets from the village malaria worker.”

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Khem Bou and her two children now live on a farm in Pailin province.

Khem Bou and her family are among the country’s poorest. Those living below the poverty line (about 17 percent of the population) are often forced to give up the chance of receiving basic education to work and supplement their families’ income. Many are living under poor hygienic conditions and have limited knowledge of disease and how to protect themselves. Khem Bou’s family is also at high risk of getting malaria and thereby spreading the drug resistant parasite. Like many other mobile and migrant families, their itinerant lifestyles make them difficult to reach with malaria control interventions.

In response to these challenges, Malaria Consortium has been working closely with the Cambodian National Malaria Control Program (CNM) and the Provincial Health Department to carry out malaria control activities with a specific focus on people at risk in Pailin province, where high levels of resistance to antimalarial drugs have been identified by CNM and the World Health Organization.

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Leap Sivmeng, a village malaria worker in Pailin, practices malaria diagnosis procedures during the refresher training with the Malaria Consortium team.

With funding from the UK government, the community health network in 68 villages in Pailin province will be strengthened and village malaria workers (VMW) will be trained to provide early diagnosis and treatment for malaria.

Leap Sivmeng, a VMW in Pailin, participated in the refresher training with Malaria Consortium.

“My father used to suffer from malaria. He almost died because we did not have enough money to see the doctor and treat him. So I volunteered to get the education necessary to help my family. It has been three years already since I started working as a VMW. I have been helping not only my family but also the villagers in the community.”

This training is part of the VMW project framework, which is designed to equip VMWs and enhance their education and technical skills to perform rapid diagnosis tests for malaria and provide treatment according to the national treatment guidelines. They are trained to detect and report any new cases found. Supportive supervision from Malaria Consortium’s field technical staff is provided on a regular basis to keep them motivated and reinforce what they learnt during the training.

So Sam Art, a 57 year old VMW from Pailin province, explained how what he learnt helped him make a better diagnosis.

“There was one new case of malaria I detected in April this year.  Normally, when a patient visits me, I ask about their symptoms and history and check their temperature. If I suspect they have malaria, I will do the blood test. If the patient has malaria, then I will give them the medicine.

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So Sam Art, a village malaria worker in Pailin, checks his medicine kit as part of his training with the Malaria Consortium team.

Leap Sivmeng and So Sam Art are among the frontline VMWs who can help provide primary health services directly to community members and connect with mobile populations in the area. Their work is an important part of malaria control efforts among the most vulnerable and high risk groups.

Cambodia aims to move towards pre-elimination of malaria across the country with special efforts to contain artemisininresistant p .falciparum malaria by the end of 2015, and achieve phased elimination of all forms by 2025.

Wanweena Tangsathianraphap is External Communications Officer for Asia

 

 

Malaria is one of the ‘best buys’ in Global Health

Op-ed by Dr James Tibenderana, Malaria Consortium Development Director, on the launch of two new malaria strategies

At this week’s 3rd International Financing for Development meeting in Addis Ababa, the World Health Organization (WHO), along with the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership present their 2015-2030 strategies during a financing for malaria side meeting.

Both strategies – WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 (GTS) and RBM’s Action and Investment to defeat Malaria 2016-2030 (AIM) – for a malaria free world – will be shaping the future of health development by saving more than 10 million lives and averting nearly 3 billion cases worldwide. Together, these documents chart the investment and collective actions needed to reach the 2030 malaria goals and reach a malaria-free world.

Malaria Consortium, UK’s leading malaria NGO and a partner of RBM, made a significant contribution to the development of the GTS: through the WHO Malaria Policy Advisory Committee of which our Technical Director Dr Sylvia Meek is a member, by sharing its technical expertise into online consultations and by translating evidence and learning of our work into practical advice for the strategy.

I am delighted to see both strategies highlight the huge health and economic benefits that result from investing in eliminating malaria while demonstrating malaria is one of the ‘best buys’ in Global Health. Meeting the 2030 malaria targets will generate more than US $4 trillion of additional economic output across the 2016-2030 timeframe.

Though the world has made dramatic progress – malaria mortality rates have decreased by 54 percent in Africa, much remains to be done. Nearly 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to a protective insecticide-treated net, and at least 15 million pregnant women do not receive the protective treatment they need to keep themselves and their unborn child healthy. Each year, malaria costs the African continent an estimated minimum of US $12 billion in lost productivity.

History demonstrates that maintaining gains made fighting malaria are dependant on sufficient and sustained investment. Since the 1930s, there have been 75 documented resurgences of malaria reported in 61 countries, the majority linked to reduced or suspended funding for malaria programmes.

We therefore call on governments, donors and partners to continue to work together – within and between sectors and across borders.

I am proud to see today’s event marks a milestone in global health history and the start of a new era in development.

Dr James Tibenderana, Malaria Consortium Development Director

Fighting Dengue in Cambodia

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Dengue, for which there is no cure or vaccine, is one of the leading causes of hospitalisation and death among children in Asian and Latin American countries. Its incidence has grown dramatically around the world in the past 40 years.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the actual numbers of dengue cases are under-reported and many cases are misclassified, but despite this, evidence indicates a sharp increase in the number of cases in recent years. A number of factors have contributed to the rapid growth of dengue, including urbanisation, globalisation and climate change as well as a lack of effective mosquito control.

Cambodia is one of the countries in Asia that is considered an endemic area, where dengue cases have been identified every year since its first outbreak in 1963. A cumulative total of 3,543 cases were reported to the National Dengue Control Programme (NDCP) in 2014. For this reason, Malaria Consortium has begun implementing dengue projects in the country. Recently, Mr Ian Boulton, a Malaria Consortium Trustee, together with technical officers led by Dr. Jeffrey Hii, Malaria Consortium’s regional Senior Vector Control Specialist, visited the Tong Rong health centre and eight households in Kampong Cham province, Cambodia, to look into local methods of vector control.

Dr. Hii demonstrated an example of entomological monitoring using simple tools to collect live mosquito larvae and pupae. The team observed how sweep nets were used to collect live specimens in the cement water jars. These live specimens were transferred to white plastic pans to facilitate differentiation between mosquitoes and non-mosquito organisms, before transferring to plastic bags for species identification in the laboratory. This method of sampling attracted the attention of young children, women and men who were informed about the purpose of the visit and were told about the link between Aedes mosquitoes in water containers and dengue fever. What was impressive was that some households have reared guppies in the water containers; on average, a guppy can eat over a hundred larvae each day.

Although the use of guppy fish has been recognised as a low cost, sustainable and effective approach to reduce dengue vector populations and the risk of dengue transmission, it has some limitations. Aedes mosquito breeding is not limited to large water jars or cement tanks, but they also breed in other containers, where water can collect, such as flower vases, plant pot bases, discarded cans, coconut shells and tyres.  As a result, mosquito breeding and some dengue risk still persists. In order to reduce Aedes breeding and populations further, Malaria Consortium is currently implementing a project that will evaluate an alternative low-cost, sustainable and effective approach with other larvicides that can be used in combination with guppy fish.

Communication for Behavioural Impact (COMBI) has been included as part of dengue control efforts to create a supportive environment for behaviour change and make community participation a vital part of the project.

To drive and sustain these integrated vector control management strategies, Malaria Consortium Cambodia works together with National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control to provide dengue surveillance strengthening support and develop the Provincial Health Departments’ capacity to  detect any dengue outbreak and implement the responses.

Wanweena Tangsathianraphap is External Communications Officer for Asia

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Dr. Jeffrey Hii demonstrated how to collect mosquito larvae.

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Ian Boulton, Malaria Consortium Trustee, and Dr. Aranxta Roca, Malaria Consortium Asian Technical Director, used the pipette to transfer the larvae.

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The team visited the guppy farm to investigate different breeds of guppy fish and their capacity to eat mosquito larvae.

Providing mosquito nets for families through school distributions

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“When the rainy season comes, our children fall sick because of the weather. It’s malaria, flu, cough – even measles. It affects us because they miss lessons, and they can’t always catch up when they come back.”

Mary is a teacher at Iyolwa Primary School in Tororo, eastern Uganda. She teaches maths, English and social studies to a class of around 80 students, most of whom are no more than 10 years old. Her students study hard but, like in many parts of the country, their education can be severely disrupted by malaria and other illnesses.

During my visit to check up on Comic Relief’s Operation Health project in the same district, I was fortunate enough to be able to observe an activity from one of our projects that tackles this issue head-on: the distribution of long lasting insecticidal nets that would provide protection for over a thousand children and their families.

Whilst malaria mortality and morbidity in Uganda is generally high, Tororo is the worst hit by the disease. On average, residents are exposed to one to two infectious mosquito bites per night, with malaria accounting for more than 40 percent of patient visits to many health facilities. Sleeping under a long lasting insecticide treated mosquito net is one of the best ways to prevent malaria, but unfortunately they are not always available, or if they are, people don’t know how to use them properly.

The Malaria Control Culture project in Tororo focuses on developing ‘routine’ net distributions, ensuring nets reach those that need them most and encouraging people to use them. At the health facility level, we provide nets for pregnant women (who are at an increased risk of contracting malaria) when they go for antenatal check-ups. We also help ensure good net coverage through annual distribution campaigns for school children in years one and four.

It was one of the school net distributions that I visited, arriving in time to enjoy a lively drama about malaria prevention performed by a group of village health workers and primary school pupils. While the drama was going on, Malaria Consortium staff were speaking with teachers about the logistics of the distribution, while parents and relations gathered in the shade to hear from district officials and other experts about how to use the nets.

“Today we are going to show you exactly what Malaria Consortium has done for the people in the village, and what good things are going on there,” said Saul, head village health team member (VHT) of the sub-county. “We are going to show you through song, and at the same time we are going to make a drama so you can see exactly what is happening.” He told me that he was there with other VHTs to teach the school children how to protect themselves and their families from malaria. This way, children not only bring home a net but can also pass along the lessons they have learnt on preventing malaria, he explained.

When the drama ended, children in Y1 and Y4 began to gather outside the school building, where teachers read out their names from class registers Abbo Kevin, mother of six year-old daughter Stella who received a net that day, told me: “I came to this school when I was younger, but I didn’t receive nets. This is the first time. Before, malaria was so high, but it is now decreasing because of the nets.”

Mary said she and the other teachers are also happy to see a drop in the number of absences: “Since the nets, it has changed. Many have been falling sick, but as of now the numbers have been reduced.”

Take a look at the photo gallery below to see some of the photos from the net distribution:

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Ilya Jones is Communications Officer at Malaria Consortium in London.

Barriers to IPTp uptake in Uganda

Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to malaria partly because of their reduced immunity to the disease, but also because of their vulnerable social and economic status. Their unborn babies are also at high risk, with malaria potentially leading to spontaneous abortion and low birth weight. Babies born with low birth weight will often be weak and more likely to get sick. However, malaria in pregnancy is preventable. The World Health Organization recommends a combination of three interventions for the prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy: the use of long-lasting insecticidal nets, prompt diagnosis and effective treatment of malaria infections, and the administration of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp).

It is this last method that we have been concerned with at Malaria Consortium. IPTp is low-cost, safe and generally acceptable to pregnant women, and can be provided at antenatal check-ups. However, despite generally high antenatal care (ANC) attendance, most countries in sub-Saharan Africa do not come close to meeting the targets set by organisations like Roll Back Malaria, which advocate for universal coverage.  In Uganda, for example, current surveys suggest that only about a quarter of pregnant women receive two doses of IPTp (IPT2, the indicator commonly used to assess IPTp uptake). This suggests that many opportunities for the provision of IPTp are being missed.

Research results

We have coordinated a study conducted in 2014, which explored the barriers that continue to impede IPTp uptake in Uganda. This has involved carrying out in-depth interviews with pregnant women and mothers who attended ANC, health workers, district health officials and community leaders.  Conducted through COMDIS-HSD, a research programme consortium funded by UK aid from the UK government, the study looked at both the supply side (i.e. the health system, including health workers) and demand side factors (i.e. women’s and communities’ perceptions).

The research concluded that, despite a range of minor concerns (for example with regard to taking IPTp on an empty stomach), women and communities have largely positive views of ANC and IPTp. Refusal rates of IPTp are low and given the high ANC attendance figures, the main obstacles to the provision of IPTp are therefore likely to be supply-side challenges. In the past, many health facilities struggled with frequent stock-outs of the drug used for IPTp, although this has been improving thanks to recent efforts from the Ministry of Health. Private facilities on the other hand have to buy their own supplies, which means stock-outs are still a problem.

Another major barrier to the provision of IPTp is health workers’ inadequate knowledge with regard to when and how to provide IPTp. This is compounded by the incoherent and out-of-date information provided in many policy documents and job aids that are supposed to guide health workers. Moreover, the policies in use are not in line with the most recent WHO policy recommendations for the provision of IPTp.

What next?

Malaria Consortium is about to implement a small-scale pilot intervention in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to address some of the key barriers to IPTp uptake in Uganda. The main focus of the intervention is to ensure adequate knowledge of IPTp guidelines among health workers. This will support the Ministry’s plans to roll out a country-wide classroom-based training programme on malaria in pregnancy, which will include updated IPTp guidelines that comply with current WHO recommendations.

However, it is unfortunately not feasible for everyone involved in ANC provision to attend traditional classroom training sessions. Therefore, in order to reinforce the guidelines and ensure all relevant health workers receive the necessary information, we will pilot the use of text messaging to communicate key messages. Following the classroom-based training, health workers providing ANC services at a number of health facilities in West Nile province will receive a series of text messages emphasising the importance of IPTp, explaining the new guidelines and the rationale behind the changes. This approach has recently been shown to be highly effective in communicating clinical recommendations to health workers in China, and we believe that the rapid spread of mobile technology in Africa means that the time is right to test this innovative solution in Uganda.

In order to assess the effect of the intervention, the pilot will also include health workers in a neighbouring district who will only receive the classroom-based malaria in pregnancy training. We will assess knowledge of IPTp at all facilities six months after the training. If text messaging works, we would expect to see better levels of knowledge among those health workers who attended the training and subsequently received the messages compared with those who only received the training. We would also expect that better knowledge of the IPTp guidelines will lead to fewer missed opportunities and hence an increase in IPTp coverage. The pilot is scheduled to start in May 2015 and evaluation results are expected to be available in 2016.

Christian Rassi is COMDIS-HSD Project Coordinator at Malaria Consortium

Agente Polivalente Elementar overcomes tragedy by helping her community

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Caterina Cumbi, a community health worker or Agente Polivalente Elementar (APE) makes a check-up visit to three-year-old  Beldencio who  tested positive for malaria  three days ago; in Jogo, Inhambane (Photo by Ruth Ayisi).

Caterina Cumbi, a community health worker or Agente Polivalente Elementar (APE) as they are known in Mozambique, remembers how in the 1980s she lost three of her eight children to malaria. “There was no health centre nearby, no transport and no APE who could test and treat malaria.”

Today, Caterina, 46, supports her five surviving children, four of whom have gone on to further education. Not only has she been able to provide for her family by selling tangerines and avocados, but since 2010 she also has improved the health of her rural community in Jogo, in Mozambique’s southern province of Inhambane, after being elected by her community to work as an APE.

In 2012 Caterina attended a course supported by the Ministry of Health, in partnership with Malaria Consortium, to learn how to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia, the three main killer diseases of children under the age of five in Mozambique.

Caterina’s working hours are from 9 am to 2 pm, Monday to Friday, which include consultations and home visits to carry out health promotion activities, including community dialogues around childhood illnesses, their prevention and management. “But sometimes when I return from my home visits I find mothers waiting for me,” says Caterina. “They also come during the night and over the weekends, and mothers from other communities who do not have an APE in their area also bring their children to me.”

Caterina works closely with the health committee, ensuring transparency and involvement of the community. “She always opens the monthly health kit [containing rapid diagnostic tests and medicines] in our presence,” says community leader Pedro Rafael. “We plan our health promotion activities together.” He adds, “Caterina has a lot of influence in our community. Before, most women used to give birth at home, but Caterina has sensitised them to make the journey to the health centre to give birth.”

Her supervisor, Hirondina Bernardo, a nurse at the health centre in Nhancoja, also speaks highly of Caterina and the other two APEs whom she supervises.  “People who did not like coming to the hospital, now come when the APEs refer them, as the APEs are from their own communities and are trusted.”  However, each month Caterina has to ride her bike for 18 kilometres along sandy tracks to collect supplies and deliver her record of consultations and health promotion activities. “The terrain is difficult”, comments nurse Hirondina, “so their bikes had to be replaced, and for a while some of the APEs had to walk each month to bring their records.” Despite the challenges, Caterina too says that she feels she makes a valuable contribution. “I keep the children in my community healthy,” she says.

Malaria Consortium is working with the Agente Polivalente Elementares in Inhambane through the inSCALE project. The inSCALE project is researching innovative ways to increase APE motivation and performance in order to increase the appropriate treatment of sick children.  Since 2013, the APEs in six districts in Inhambane have been using smart phones with an application called inSCALE APE CommCare, which features a multimedia job aid with images and audio to guide APEs through the consultation steps, a closed user group enabling free communication between peers and supervisors, and a data submission tool that enables the APEs to submit their records over the 3G network. To learn more about the work of APEs such as Caterina and the inSCALE project please join us at INSTIDOC – Ciclo do Documentário Institucional on Friday 24th April 19h00 at Centro Cultural Franco-Moçambicano in Maputo, Mozambique to watch our documentary focusing on two APEs “Caterina e Halima”. For further details about the event, please visit the website: https://instidoc.wordpress.com or for more information about the inSCALE project: www.malariaconsortium.org/inscale/.  

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Before, we had no way to prevent malaria. Now the nets protect the whole family

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It’s the second week of August in Lichinga, Niassa Province in northern Mozambique – not far from the Malawi and Tanzania borders. It is a cold and wintery month with grey skies.

After about two months of preparation, our mosquito net distribution campaign using long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINS) for universal coverage has finally reached the distribution stage. The teams who have been working to support and supervise the campaign will set out for the Ngaúma, Mandimba, Metarica, Nipepe, Marrupa and Majune districts – the six included in the first stage of distribution. Expectations are high for everyone involved. Finally, the campaign will start.

The main ceremonies of the campaign’s launch will take place in the Chimbunila district village of Lumbi, 15 km from the city of Lichinga. Here, in addition to the distribution of LLINs, a new health facility will be opened.

Alifa Rachide’s family was chosen by the community to receive the first LLINs to be distributed in this province. Alifa, 50, will bring his wife Atuege Jemuce, 43, and their seven children to the event. Their daughter attends fourth grade and another child is in year one. Alifa doesn’t know the exact age of his children, but he says the youngest is less than a year old.

The couple, originally from Lumbi, support themselves by cultivating cassava, groundnuts and beans, ensuring a supply of food for the family and generating some extra income. Alifa says this is the first time that his family will receive mosquito nets. “We never had mosquito nets, and so we had no way to prevent the mosquito bites and malaria,” he said. “At home, someone gets sick with malaria most years, but fortunately this year no one has got sick yet. I’m happy because the nets we receive will protect the family from malaria.”

Alifa and his family received four LLINs – a sufficient number to cover the whole family, since two people can usually sleep under a single net. His wife Atuege lets out a smile because the community will have a closer health facility that will reduce the distance they have to walk – involving crossing a river and the risk of crocodile attacks. She says: “Our family was chosen by God – we have received mosquito nets, and we have a health facility. Community leaders visited our house and informed us that we would receive LLINs at a ceremony held by the Government. And here we are.”

The LLIN distribution campaign was implemented by Malaria Consortium, under a project funded by the Global Fund Round 9. The project is being carried out in nine provinces of Mozambique, partnering with World Vision and the Foundation for Community Development (FDC). Malaria Consortium supported the Provincial Health Directorates of Niassa and Nampula to distribute around 1,000,000 LLINs, benefiting more than 400,000 families. In addition to distributing LLINs, the project involves training volunteers and teachers to educate and engage their communities around malaria prevention and control strategies.

Fernando Bambo is Deputy Project Manager in Mozambique

Malaria Consortium Cambodia awarded the Certificate of Merit for work with government

Mr. Lim Kim Seng, Malaria Consortium Pailin Field Office Coordinator received the award from HE. Dr. Te Kuy Seang, the Secretary of State of Cambodia.

Malaria Consortium was awarded a Certificate of Merit in recognition of its work implementing the Ministry of Health’s malaria elimination strategy in Cambodia.

On 26th February 2015, the Provincial Health Department of Pailin (PHD) organised an annual conference to review the achievements of 2014 and look ahead at plans for 2015. Malaria Consortium’s Pailin office, as a working partner of the PHD, contributed by co-organising this event. Over one hundred participants attended, including Village Malaria Workers, staff from government offices and the NGO sector and representatives from the Health Center Member Committee. The ceremony was presided by His Excellency Mr. Ing Vuth, Deputy Provincial Governor of Pailin Province.

Malaria Consortium – one of the leading non-profit organisations specialising in the prevention, control and treatment of malaria and neglected tropical diseases – was honoured to receive the Certificate of Merit from HE. Dr. Te Kuy Seang, the Secretary of State of Cambodia. The award was granted in appreciation and recognition of the NGOs and government departments that have contributed to the health sector and Ministry of Health activities in the country. Mr. Lim Kim Seng, Malaria Consortium Pailin Field Office Coordinator was at the event to receive the award on behalf of the organisation.

Malaria Consortium established an office in Cambodia in 2009, with field offices located in Pailin (since 2009) and Rattanakiri (since 2014), in addition to supporting activities in multiple other provinces. Since its inception, Malaria Consortium has assisted at both provincial and national level to strengthen the capacity of government officers and provide technical support for malaria control and elimination. In addition, Malaria Consortium has worked to conduct cutting-edge implementation research in close collaboration with the national malaria control programme and provincial health departments in order to assist Cambodia in tackling antimalarial drug resistance.

Pailin is one of the early provinces where artemisinin resistance was identified, and continues to be a key location for managing resistant malaria.  Malaria Consortium has been implementing projects in Pailin to eliminate artemisinin resistance, including support to the Village Malaria Worker programme, identifying the burden of asymptomatic and resistant malaria in the border-crossing population, research to explore the use of reactive case detection approaches, and piloting of surveillance and mHealth approaches for real-time reporting and response to malaria cases.

To learn more about the current projects we are working on in Cambodia and the wider Asia region, please click here.

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The Certificate of Merit as a recognition of the high performance in partnership on the implementation of malaria elimination strategy from the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Wanweena Tangsathianraphap is External Communications Officer in Asia.