At a glance: community health worker adherence to guidelines for pneumonia using the ChARM device

Approx reading time: 1 min

The ARIDA ChARM acceptability sought to establish whether health extension workers (HEWs) in Ethiopia could correctly adhere to the integrated community case management (iCCM) algorithm for assessing and classifying under five children for fast breathing, as a symptom of pneumonia using the Children’s Respiration Monitor (ChARM) device, produced by Philips.

The infographic below provides a quick glance at the results of the study – full results and analysis are available in the research brief, available here.


Read more about the ARIDA project and Malaria Consortium’s other work on pneumonia

 

 

Fighting malaria in Mozambique — digital health, community engagement and collaborative partnership

Approx reading time: 4 mins

Mozambique has been in the news recently following arrests of senior officials and bankers in London, New York and Jo’burg on their alleged involvement with fraud and loan scandals, that led to a financial crisis in the impoverished country.

The country already has some of the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world, ranks high on the corruption index and among the bottom ten on the global human development index — leading to increasing and justified calls for the scandalous debts to be written-off by the creditors.

Health challenges for Mozambique are immense –

Mozambique has the highest burden of malaria in southern Africa, with over 8.5 million cases reported in 2016 and all provinces of the country are prone to high malaria transmission.

Nearly half of the population lives below the poverty lineand those in rural communities lack access to basic healthcare services contributing to excess morbidity and mortality.

Each year, over 80,000 children lose their lives before their fifth birthday — this accounts to one young life lost needlessly every six minutes — the time it’d take one to read this post.

Malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea are attributable to over one third of under five deaths — common childhood illnesses that are easily preventable and treatable in similar settings elsewhere.

Maternal malaria and malnutrition are widespread, coupled with insufficient health infrastructure and low coverage of preventative services such as IPTp and immunisation, low exclusive breastfeeding rates and high childhood malnutrition — the odds of losing young lives remains very high.

Since 2005, Malaria Consortium has worked closely with the national ministry of health and partners, to help strengthen systems and improve access to life-saving services for children and communities, in particular at the last mile.

Visiting communities in Inhambane

Late last year, I visited the country to support colleagues and see for myself the impact we’re having on the lives of the most vulnerable across the country; and here’s what I found.

We are at the forefront of community and digital health work in the country — having developed and rolled-out with partners the mobile health app for community health workers (CHWs) over the past 10 years. The innovation enables CHWs, called the Agentes Polivalentes Elementares locally, to correctly diagnose and treat children with common childhood illnesses using the integrated community case management (iCCM) protocols.

Our flagship digital health intervention upSCALE consists of an interactive mobile phone app that guides CHWs through patient registration, routine health checks, diagnosis, treatment, referral and follow-up. The app automatically compiles CHW monthly reports for submission to supervisor online. A complementary CHW supervisor app supports two-way communication and feedback, while integration with the district health information system (DHIS2) enables easy visualisation of aggregated data.

Over the years, upSCALE has helped strengthen community service delivery in a low resource setting, significantly improved access to quality care at the last mile, improved availability of realtime data for monitoring, supervision and district planning. As a result, the government of Mozambique is planning to scale-up this evidence-based intervention across all CHWs and provinces over the next few years.

Adelia — one of the MC supported CHWs in Inhambane

One of our local health heroes, Adelia, is a single mother and committed CHW in Marange, Homoine district. She has been providing community health services over the past 8 years and sees around 300 cases pm. She was one of the first CHWs trained on the upSCALE mobile app and said that she finds it‘really helpful for correct case management and sharing health messages during home visits’.

Working closely with the national CHW programme and provincial health departments, upSCALE started with just 10 CHWs in Inhambane in 2009. Since 2016, the innovation has been scaled-up to 650 CHWs in all districts of Inhambane and Cabo Delgado provinces, and expected to increase to 2250 later this year with the addition of CHWs in Zambezia province.

Similarly, we are working closely with the national malaria control programme and partners to strengthen malaria surveillance across the country, contextualising strategies and interventions for the lower and higher transmission areas in south and north of the country respectively.

We recently completed a national landscape analysis and brought stakeholders together to identify and address bottlenecks in the national malaria surveillance system, and support the collaborative development of a Data-to-Action (D2A) framework to support progress towards malaria elimination by strengthening surveillance in Mozambique.

Awareness of childhood illnesses and health-seeking practices are low across rural communities and only about half of the young children are taken to a health worker for treatment of common illnesses. Nampula province in northern Mozambique has the highest burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the country, with high co-endemicity of schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis and soil transmitted helminths.

Since 2014, we have worked closely with communities and local authorities in Nampula province using our innovative Community Dialogues approach to improve awareness, prevention and control of NTDs.

Working through community champions and facilitators across 600communities in 4 districts of the province, we have contributed to strengthen community engagement, ownership and capacity to overcome socio-cultural barriers for improved acceptance and uptake of NTDs prevention and control services in target communities.

Community facilitators leading on community dialogues session in Nampula province

Over the years, Malaria Consortium has worked to promote partnerships at community, district, provincial and national levels in Mozambique, collaborating with development partners, international agencies and local researchers such as the health research institute at Manhiça, generating credible evidence and learning that has informed policies and practices of governments and partners, both locally and globally.

Despite the widespread development challenges, Mozambique is blessed with immense resources, not just the minerals and spectacular landscapes, but the rich culture, cuisine and diversity of her people.

I returned greatly impressed with the ingenuity and resilience of the Mozambican people, who are striving to make a difference every day with limited resources — there is no doubt the country has the potential to make significant progress towards malaria elimination, improving health coverage and saving lives, if the current pace of progress is maintained over the coming years.

And it may be on the other side of the world, but I cannot wait to return soon!

Tackling antibiotic resistance – why it matters and how community dialogue can help

Approx reading time: 3 mins
The Community Dialogue approach enables community-based volunteers to host regular community meetings to explore how a health issue affects the community

Antibiotics are lifesavers – they are used to prevent and treat bacterial infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and urinary tract infections. However, the misuse of antibiotics in recent years has led to many strains of bacteria becoming resistant to this type of medicines, which means it is now more complex (and sometimes impossible) to treat infections caused by resistant “superbugs”. Unless we urgently change the way we use antibiotics, resistance will continue to spread globally, resulting in higher treatment costs, prolonged hospital stays and, ultimately, more people dying from bacterial infections. The worst case scenario would be a world where antibiotics are no longer effective and people die from common bacterial infections or minor accidents.

A recent report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warns that in Europe, North America and Australia alone, 2.4 million people could die between 2015 and 2050 unless urgent action is taken to “stem the superbug tide”. The impact of antibiotic resistance is likely to be even more dramatic in low and middle-income countries, where health systems are weak and access to quality medicines is poorly regulated.

Tackling antibiotic resistance is not going to be an easy task. The development of new drugs and enabling healthcare providers to prescribe antibiotics only when needed will be important cornerstones of efforts to minimise resistant. However, a comprehensive approach will need to address many factors outside the traditional boundaries of the human health sector. For example, one of the ways to minimise the development of resistance is to prevent infections, which requires improvements in access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Another major contributor to the spread of resistance is the overuse of antibiotics in livestock and farmed fish, often to stimulate growth and prevent rather than cure infections. Scientists believe that resistant bacteria can spread through the food chain, but also through contaminated water and soils, for example through pollution from inadequate treatment of industrial, residential and farm waste. Because of the many interdependencies, the fight against antibiotic resistance is a prime example of the need to adopt a “One Health” approach – a coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to improving health and wellbeing.

In November, the Call to Action on Antimicrobial Resistance was held in Accra, Ghana, which brought together policymakers, donors, civil society and researchers from a broad range of countries and backgrounds to discuss the global response to the most critical gaps in tackling the development and spread of drug-resistant infections. The event was co-hosted by the governments of Ghana, Thailand and the UK, with the United Nations Foundation, World Bank and Wellcome Trust and in partnership with the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.

The first day of the event focused on highlighting the work of individuals and organisations taking pioneering action to tackle drug-resistant infections. Malaria Consortium was honoured to be chosen by the Wellcome Trust as one of two “Pioneers” identified through a competitive open call to showcase our work on Community Dialogue to address antibiotic resistance in Bangladesh. The project, a collaboration between the University of Leeds, ARK Foundation and Malaria Consortium, addresses a factor that is often overlooked: what the general public can do to minimise the spread of antibiotic resistance. For example, people should use antibiotics only when prescribed by a health professional, complete the full prescription, and never share antibiotics with friends and family. To bring about positive social and behaviour change among the general public, the project adopts the Community Dialogue Approach, which has been used by Malaria Consortium in different countries and for a range of other health issues. The approach involves enabling community-based volunteers to host regular community meetings to explore how a health issue affects the community, identify solutions to the problem and decide on how the community will address the issue. It builds on the assumption that public discussion and collective decision making will, over time, create a sense of ownership and affect the social norms that shape the behaviour of the wider community, not just those who actively participate in the meetings. In this project, 55 volunteers were trained in the catchment area of five Community Clinics, a total population of 30,000. Since May 2018, over 400 meetings have been held, each involving 40 community members on average. Evaluation of the project is ongoing, but preliminary findings are encouraging, with many participating reporting that they are now more mindful of using antibiotics appropriately.

Delegates at the Call to Action commended the community-level, bottom-up approach to tackling antibiotic resistance. Many were particularly impressed with how the project aimed to embed the approach within the existing health system and community structures to strengthen its sustainability, for example by linking the supervision of volunteers with the network of Community Clinics that provide basic health care in Bangladesh.

In the future, we would like to expand the approach to a larger area and to carry out a robust evaluation of its impact on behaviour. We also see an opportunity to embrace the One Health idea and include the promotion of positive behaviours concerning the use of antibiotics in livestock. Overall, we believe that the approach can be used to help communities to become “resistance fighters” and play a part in tackling the threat of antibiotic resistance.

Learn more

Read our implementation guide for the Community Dialogue Approach

Rutoke’s key influencer sets up a village health club and ‘ambulance fund’

Approx reading time: 3 mins
Ernest (left) informing Bagonza (right) about preventive measures for malaria

Ernest Masereka, a voluntary community health worker and key influencer from Rutoke village, Uganda, introduced his community to the idea of forming a village health club in December 2017. Village health clubs provide forums at which community members can disseminate messages and address different issues, such as sanitation, health and savings. Members of the club collectively come up with action plans and local solutions for the challenges their community faces.

Club members, Ernest suggested, could also contribute 1,000 Ugandan shillings every month for the community to use to address health issues when needed. The community welcomed this idea and in January 2018 a village health club was formed and members began contributing to what they referred to as the ‘ambulance fund’.

Since 2016, USAID’s Malaria Action Program for Districts (MAPD) has been working with the key influencers to reduce the malaria burden in Uganda. Their role is to sensitize their communities on the dangers of malaria, the importance of seeking early treatment within 24 hours of symptoms, and preventive practices. This is done through monthly home visits and, when they exist, through community dialogues via the village health club. In September 2017, MAPD, implemented by Malaria Consortium in partnership, identified and trained 32 key influencers in malaria prevention, treatment and interpersonal communication and one of their deliverables was to establish village health clubs.

Bagonza (left) attending a dialogue meeting hosted by the Rutoke Tweyambe Group chairperson

Thanks to Ernest’s encouragement, his community’s village health club is already proving a success. When Bagonza’s son got sick in May 2018, he took him to a nearby health centre where he was diagnosed with malaria and received treatment. However, his condition became worse after a week and he was referred to St Paul’s hospital 10 kilometers away from his home in Kasese town. Bagonza did not have enough money at the time, so he spoke with the chairman, treasurer and secretary of the village health club in his village and managed to borrow 40,000 Ugandan shillings. With this money, Bagonza took his son to hospital and bought a few other necessary items, such as sugar, soap and food. This was officially communicated to the village health club members at the next meeting and a repayment schedule was established for Bagonza to replenish the Ambulance fund.

“My child is very well now and is back at school,” said Bagonza. “Recently, the government gave us nets and we now sleep under a mosquito net. I also know even more nets are being distributed at the facilities to pregnant mothers. We are lucky that our village was chosen [for this project]. Please do not forget us in your future plans.”

MAPD plans to increase the number of key influencers in the Kasese district from four to 10 to extend its reach in promoting behavior change and reduce the malaria burden in the district. Since key influencers and community members are accountable for the success of village health clubs, this will ensure the sustainability of MAPD’s impact even after the project ends.

This success story is published as part of a series from the USAID’s Malaria Action Program for Districts project.

For more information, see www.malariaconsortium.org/resources/publications/977/ or contact: Dr Sam Gudoi, s.gudoi@malariaconsortium.org

USAID’s Malaria Action Program for Districts aims to improve the health status of the Ugandan population by reducing childhood and maternal morbidity and mortality due to malaria. The project will support the Government of Uganda for a period of five years, focusing in particular on children under five years of age and pregnant women. This project, made possible by the generous support from the American and British people, is implemented by Malaria Consortium in partnership with Jhpiego, Banyan Global, and Communication for Development Foundation Uganda (CDFU), Deloitte Uganda and Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI).

From the field: female community health volunteers in Nepal

Approx reading time: 2 mins

Nepal is one of only five countries that have reduced under-five mortality by 50% since 1990[1], however pneumonia remains one of the primary causes of death for Nepali children (15% of under five deaths in 2015[2]). In rural areas, the government relies on the country’s 50,000 Female Health Community Volunteers (FCHVs) to provide maternal and child health care. Although 42% of these women have never been to school[3] they have been trained to diagnose a number of illnesses, including pneumonia, and provide essential care to young children on a daily basis in the most remote areas where Health Posts are hard to reach.

Guta

As part of its Acute Respiratory Infection Diagnosis Aid (ARIDA) project/study, Malaria Consortium (MC) went on a scoping mission to Nepal end of January and visited an FCHV in a valley outside Kathmandu. Guta Kunwor is 38 years old and she has been an FCHV for 12 year. Her aunt was an FCHV before her and she used to accompany her to trainings at the local Health Centre. On average, she sees three children with cough or difficulty breathing every week. When children present with those symptoms she counts their respiratory rate (RR) for 60 seconds according to the Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI) guidelines and refers them to the nearest Health Post if she diagnoses fast breathing.

A child wearing the ChARM device

So far, Guta has been using the ARI Timer, a device which works like a stopwatch whilst she is counting the child’s breaths by watching their stomach moving with each inhalation and exhalation. The ARIDA study is focused on testing an automated device which is strapped to the child’s belly and automatically counts the child’s breaths. It also reduces the assessment time from five minutes to merely a couple of minutes. When we told Guta about this new device, she spontaneously thought of an analogy which rang very true: she said that using the ARI Timer was a little like touching a child’s forehead and yours at the same time to check for fever, whilst using the ChARM device was more like using a thermometer to get a reliable diagnosis.

This stage of the ARIDA study is looking at the acceptability of this new automated device under a number of specific themes: affective attitude, burden, intervention coherence, perceived effectiveness and self-efficacy. The results should show whether FCHVs and health facility workers (HFWs) using an Acute Respiratory Infection Diagnostic Aid (ARIDA) can adhere to the IMNCI algorithm, and should help us better understand FCHVs’ and HFWs’ perceptions on the benefits of and barriers to using this new device.

Alice Maurel is Senior Programme Officer at Malaria Consortium. Alice visited Nepal in January 2018.

Find out more about the ARIDA study in our project brief here.

The ARIDA study is funded by the La Caixa Foundation and UNICEF in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health Ethiopia, Federal Ministry of Health Nepal and Ministry of Health Mozambique.

[1] P Dawson YP, R Houston, S Karki, D Poudel, S Hodgins. From research to national expansion: 20 years’ experience of community-based management of childhood pneumonia in Nepal. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2008

[2] Government of Nepal MoH. Annual Report, Department of Health Services, 2015–2016. 2016.

[3] Ibid.

Mozambique: A field officer developing community capacity in malaria prevention

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Approx reading time: 3 mins
Field officer Castélio Muwasse

Story collected by Dorca Nhaca and edited by Fernando Bambo in November 2017

Ilha de Moçambique is an idyllic island for visitors; it was once the capital of Mozambique and is now a world heritage site. But for the local population as well as for visitors, there is a threat that darkens the picture: the risk of getting malaria, a potentially deadly disease that remains the main cause of health problems in Mozambique.

Castélio Muwasse, a Field Officer for Malaria Consortium, works in the District of Ilha de Moçambique. This 31-year old technician in preventive medicine and environmental sanitation joined the Malaria Prevention and Control Project team in 2016, motivated by the desire to work with communities and learn new experiences.

As a field officer, the responsibilities of Castélio included support for the District Health Services in the implementation of project activities, training of community structures and teachers on malaria prevention, collection and compilation of activity monitoring data, and coordination between health facilities and community structures, such as health committees and local organisations, and between district education and health services.

In addition to mobilising community structures for malaria prevention, he coordinated the training of teachers with the school health technician of the District Education Services.

“With the schools, I worked well without major constraints. We managed to train the teachers and they reported the work done monthly. There was good collaboration from teachers and school directors.”

Castelio is based at the District Health Services office, but actually spends a lot of time traveling on his motorcycle to reach the various communities and health facilities scattered throughout the district, even the most remote ones. With this knowledge of the terrain, he is able to draw a detailed map of the district in just a few minutes.

In order to work effectively with community structures, it is essential to build a trusting relationship. Castélio joined Malaria Consortium to replace a field officer who had worked with these communities for a few years so he had to use all his interpersonal communication skills to gain the trust of the volunteers.

”Throughout the project I have had good moments. One of these was when I was accepted by the communities and received a warm welcome. This was crucial as they were open to listening to the messages and to making use of them. ”

Castélio says that the communication activities for behaviour change carried out by community structures volunteers, teachers and students have contributed to the reduction of malaria cases, partly as a result of their collaboration.

“We have noted that there is a reduction in the number of malaria cases, a reduction in the misuse of mosquito nets, an improvement in environmental sanitation and a better uptake of the use of mosquito nets, Previously, families would take the nets to go fishing or cover their gardens.”

This is certainly the most rewarding part of being a field officer on the ground. This type of work also offers many learning opportunities for young professionals, such as Castélio, to grow.

“Personally, with the project, I learnt a lot, gained a lot of knowledge and experience. I learnt to be a more open person. One of the lessons I take with me is that working with communities is not an easy task, but humility, love, care and patience are key to success and to overcoming certain difficulties.”

The Malaria Prevention and Control Project has been implemented in nine of the 11 provinces of Mozambique by a consortium of civil society organisations  led by World Vision, with Malaria Consortium, Community Development Foundation and Food for The Hungry. Malaria Consortium carried out interventions in 17 districts of the province of Nampula and six districts in Niassa. Castélio Muwasse is one of the 23 field officers who worked with Malaria Consortium to implement communication activities to change behaviours at the community level.

Empowering communities through village health clubs in Uganda

Approx reading time: 2 mins

Uganda’s highest disease burden is from child health conditions. In 2015, Malaria Consortium introduced the Integrated Community Case Management – Maternal and Child Survival (iCCM-MaCS) project, funded by Comic Relief, to reduce Uganda’s maternal and child health burden and to empower communities to take control of health issues within their communities.

As the project draws to a close this February, we take a look back at the success of the introduction of iCCM training for village health team members (VHTs) who, in turn, established village health clubs (VHCs) in the 14 districts where the project has been implemented.

The initial purpose of VHCs was to spread health messages and provide community-based primary healthcare, but in practice, they developed into groups that focus on resolving many community issues. When the project began, the VHCs looked to childhood illnesses, such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea, as well as boosted uptake of antenatal care services. They have now evolved into an effectiveool that uses health as a gateway to broader empowerment, helping communities to realise their potential to contribute collectively to addressing and solving various day-to-day issues that arise.

Fred Rwaboona, Community Chairperson, from Kitenguleillage has seen the benefits of VHCs in his own community. He says:

“The village health club brings the community together as they have weekly meetings. This helps them do work as a team so that tasks that would have been done by one person in a week, can be done as a team and solved in a day.”

Village health teams have given village communities a platform to take charge of issues in their own communities. There are many examples of how village health team members have mobilised the community to work on different issues. Karugaba Agnes, nurse and VHT Coordinator in Nyankwanzi Subcounty, explains about how she has seen village health clubs help communities:

“Depending on the problems each village has, we teach them to handle the most urgent and biggest problem first as a community.

“I had Kyarugangma village, and when they had the meeting and went through their problems, they decided their main problem was water. Their water source was very far, so they organised themselves and reconstructed a water source and a road, which helped the community. They built a new water source nearby to reduce the distance that children and mothers had to travel to fetch water.

“Another problem was that we had an old lady who had many vulnerable children, orphans. She didn’t have a latrine, so the kids were always sick, sick, sick. So the community helped her to construct a very nice pit latrine.”

Ali Karim Bagyanyi, a VHT in Kitengule Village, explains his village health club’s plans to pool donations from community members, allowing them to develop a community emergency fund.

“We have a small amount of savings – a thousand shillings each per week – which we give to a community member who has a problem, to solve that problem. We are planning to have a fund for emergency money that we all contribute to, so if someone needs to be referred to a health facility, but they cannot afford transport, they can use that fund to pay for transport.

“In years back, we have not had the medicines we have needed, so we have seen it as a problem, so in the future if that happens and we have a case, we will use that VHC fund to pay for medicine.“

The introduction of village health clubs in the region by the project has eased the work of VHTs, giving them a platform to communicate essential community health messages, like net use, without needing to go to individual households. Village-owned clubs have provided a base for communities to continue enjoy the iCCM MaCS project gains and sustain them by themselves, even as the project has drawn to a close.

Watch our new film on the iCCM MaCS project below to learn more:

Mozambique: The behaviour changing power of radio

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Approx reading time: 2 mins

Story collected by Dorca Nhaca and edited by Fernando Bambo in November 2017

Ismael Janato is a presenter and technician at Ngauma community radio, Niassa Province, and Jonas Ali Mussa, director of the community radio on the Island of Mozambique. The Ngauma district, located in the midwest of Niassa Province, near the border with Malawi, has an estimated population of 86,000. The Island of Mozambique is part of Nampula Province with a population of about 53,000 inhabitants.

Despite the enormous distance separating Ismael and Jonas – over 700km – both have the same mission: to discuss the prevention of malaria on their community radio programmes.

Radio is recognised as the ‘African media’ for its broad accessibility and its ability to transcend cost barriers, geographical barriers and low levels of literacy, supporting listeners as they negotiate the challenges of everyday life. The Malaria Prevention and Control Project in Mozambique, implemented by Malaria Consortium in the provinces of Nampula and Niassa, has established partnerships with community radio networks to develop and transmit quality messages and programmes in local languages, promoting essential malaria prevention and treatment behaviours.

Ismael Janato from the Ngauma community radio talks about his experience with the activities:

“For the past three years, I have been managing the project activities. We received audio announcements on malaria, its transmission, signs and symptoms, the use of mosquito nets and the importance of seeking treatment. As a presenter, my job was to translate the spots into the local language, to broadcast the messages every 15 minutes, and to animate public debates live in the communities.”

Often malaria symptoms are not recognised, yet rapid and appropriate diagnosis and treatment of malaria are extremely important for reducing morbidity and mortality. Ensuring population access to essential information can substantially increase the effectiveness of existing interventions for malaria prevention.

Ismael explains that he gained knowledge about malaria through his participation in the training provided by Malaria Consortium, and thus developed the ability to discuss these issues properly. Besides broadcasting the spots, Ngauma’s community radio produces interactive programmes with the public through phone-in discussions on malaria issues and interviews with health technicians. Ismael continues, “With the work we do we have noticed changes in people’s behaviour regarding the use of mosquito nets, better hygiene at home, and there are more people who, when ill, go to the health centre and do not go to traditional practitioners anymore.”

Jonas Ali from the community radio of Mozambique Island also reports an improvement in the correct use of mosquito nets and reduction of malaria cases in the communities.

“With the work we have done, we have been able to see that there is a reduction in the use of mosquito nets for fishing and that fishing communities use the nets more responsibly. People are using the mosquito net correctly, malaria cases are also decreasing thanks to better knowledge of the consequences of malaria.”

Indeed, monitoring data and testimonies indicate an increase in knowledge about malaria and some behavioural changes in the project areas. These developments are likely to be the result of a number of complex factors and combined interventions of the Ministry of Health and its partners. The results of the Malaria Prevention and Control Project indicate that the significant expansion of intensive awareness raising, education and mobilisation activities combined with the mass distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets may have contributed to this positive development.

Goncalves Bacar, Training Officer at Malaria Consortium Niassa, underlines that “the use of a combination of reliable sources of information – community structures, schools and radios – to disseminate harmonised messages at community level was certainly key.”

This story is part of a broader project documentation exercise; to read more and other lessons learnt, click here.

Leadership makes the difference in defeating malaria

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Approx reading time: 3 mins

Story collected by Dorca Nhaca and edited by Fernando Bambo in November 2017

Nacala-Porto, on the northern coast of Mozambique, is the deepest natural harbour on the east coast of Africa. It serves as a terminal for the rail link to landlocked Malawi. Many goods transit through this district on their way to Malawi and other parts of southern Africa. The town is also known for its beaches and diving; this may be the district’s best known feature. What is less well known is the strong leadership within the District Health Service where there is an exceptional team dedicated to defeating malaria and saving lives.

The Nacala-Porto District Health Services were among the pioneers in the implementation of the Malaria Prevention and Control Project in 2011.  Malaria Consortium’s role, as one of the implementing partners for the project, was to support 17 districts of Nampula Province until 2017.

The main objective of the project was to contribute to the reduction of malaria through a combination of interventions aimed at improving malaria knowledge among the population and promoting the adoption of good practices in relation to malaria prevention and treatment at community level.

Successful implementation of this project required strong coordination between the district government and Malaria Consortium, health facilities and communities, as well as with schools and community radios. The excellent leadership of the Nacala-Porto District Health Services represented best practice in managing the partnership, including integrating the Project Field Officer into the district team, in line with the collaboration and coordination approach sought by the project implementers.

Janete Chau is the District Health Director at Nacala Porto. She is as charming and friendly as she is professionally demanding and rigorous, and she has embraced the project and managed to develop an effective partnership approach. It is for these qualities that she was awarded the title of ‘best district director of the province’ by the Nampula Provincial Health Directorate in October 2017.

“The Malaria Consortium Field Officer was actually working under our responsibility. He had to share his work plans and get involved in all the activities, and we had regular review meetings to look at the malaria situation here in the district. …My main role was to monitor and control project activities, see what was being done at district level, know where the activities were being done and what impact the project was having. ”

Janete Chau, District Health Director in Nacala Porto, Mozambique

The District Health Services’ team and Malaria Consortium worked together to map out community structure such as community health committees and local organisations, select and train them, and implement communication interventions towards behaviour change at community level. According to Ms Chau, malaria prevention activities carried out by community volunteers have contributed to increasing knowledge about malaria, care seeking and reducing malaria deaths in the area.

“People have gained knowledge about malaria, they now know how to describe it. They realise that malaria comes from the mosquito and that they breed in stagnant water. They now know they should go to the health centre if they present any malaria signs and symptoms and this has helped us to reduce malaria deaths.”

These efforts to promote good malaria prevention and treatment practices at the population level have also been accompanied by improved diagnosis and treatment of malaria patients at the health facilities level, as Ms Chau explains. “As an institution, through this project we became more aware that malaria is a serious problem and that we must keep it under control. It must be discussed. Our clinicians are more aware that they should not simply attribute malaria based on symptoms, but that we need to test for confirmation of malaria.”

These efforts are already starting to pay off but need to be maintained to achieve long-term impact. Nacala Porto’s team remains committed and motivated: “Every health professional is psychologically prepared to continue doing everything the project was doing so that one day malaria will be out of Mozambique.”

This story is part of a broader project documentation exercise; to read more and other lessons learned, click here.

Children who learn about malaria contribute to disease control in their communities

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Story collected by Dorca Nhaca and edited by Fernando Bambo in November 2017

Fátima Mário, 12 years old, Dinala Muhamudo Aid, 18 years old, Cristina Muanhar, 18 years old, and Carlitos Gabriel Tolembeta, 16 years old, are seventh grade pupils at Undi Primary School. The school is in Chimbonila District, Niassa Province, 30km from the province capital  Lichinga. At school, in addition to learning how to read, write and count, students benefit from educational activities on malaria prevention.

Fátima explains, “Everything we know, we learn at school with our teachers. During the lectures, we pay attention to the teacher’s explanation because in the end she asks us questions and we need to respond. We have learnt many good things. We learnt how to use and take good care of the mosquito net, not to wash the mosquito net in the river, not to accumulate water in the yard, and that when we get malaria we have to go to the hospital.”

In Africa, malaria accounts for up to 50 percent of all school-age deaths. Ensuring that children learn about malaria prevention practices will not only reduce malaria but also contribute to disease control in their communities.

Under the Malaria Prevention and Control Project, implemented in nine of the eleven provinces of Mozambique by a consortium of civil society organisations (2011-2017), one of the innovative interventions was to strengthen malaria education for students in the classroom. Undi Primary School is part of the schools reached by malaria prevention education activities implemented by Malaria Consortium under this project, in Niassa province.

At Undi Primary School, three teachers were trained on basic concepts of malaria, its transmission, signs and symptoms, prevention methods, and importance of early care seeking. In the classroom, teachers conduct interactive educational sessions using a flipchart that contains illustrations, questions and key messages about malaria prevention. Students are expected to share the knowledge they have gained with their families, friends and community.

“When we get home, we talk to our parents, they listen and follow the things we explain to them if they do not know already.” …Everyone likes to use the mosquito net now and last night everyone slept underneath because they know the net serves as protection against mosquito bites and malaria.”, says Carlitos

Helena Samuel, Undi Primary School natural sciences teacher acknowledges the project’s contribution to increasing knowledge about malaria, reducing school absenteeism and drop out.

“It was great to be a part of this project, because I learnt a lot, gained more knowledge about malaria and dispelled many myths that were in my mind. As a natural science teacher I transmit the concepts to the communities. …The project also brought advantages to the school and the students; now we have a low dropout rate because the students are healthier.”

Between 2011 and 2017, Malaria Consortium supported the provincial and district education directorates to train 1,682 teachers in 700 schools in the provinces of Niassa and Nampula reaching approximately 31,289 students on a quarterly basis with key messages on malaria, prevention methods and the importance of care seeking.

Project monitoring data show that school malaria education activities have contributed to increased knowledge of both teachers and students and better adherence to good malaria prevention practices in their homes and communities.

This story is part of a broader project documentation exercise; to read more and other lessons learned, click here.