NEWS: Malaria Consortium Receives Grant for Integration of Malaria-Helminth Control through Uganda Health System26 November 2009
London, 26 November 2009
: Malaria Consortium, in collaboration with the Vector Control Division (Ministry of Health, Uganda
) and the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Nairobi
, has been awarded a grant of $45,000 by the Izumi Foundation
to support the integrated control of malaria and helminths (intestinal worms and bilharzia) through Uganda’s health system.
“This is an exciting new opportunity, giving us the chance to integrate the commonest infections of the communities we are serving,” said Narcis Kabatereine, head of the National Bilharzia and Worm Control Programme.
“Sustaining neglected tropical disease (NTD) control, once successful deworming campaigns have significantly decreased prevalence of intestinal worms and schistosomiasis, is one of the major challenges for NTD control,” said a spokesperson from the Board of Directors of the Izumi Foundation. “We were excited to be approached by NTD partners in Uganda with a proposal to use a health systems approach to address this challenge, and feel that the results will make an important contribution to building up the evidence-base for integrated NTD control.”
Human infection with multiple parasite species is common throughout Africa and places a person at increased risk of developing anemia. Recent estimates suggest that approximately seven million pregnant women in Africa are infected with hookworm, and that intestinal worms affect over 50% of school-age children. Up to 30 million schoolchildren live in areas where they are at risk of both malaria and worm infections.
Anemia during pregnancy is a common cause of maternal death, as well as low birth weight of newborns. Even moderate anemia makes women less able to work and care for their children, while anemia in children makes them more tired and less able to concentrate, hence impacting on educational outcomes.
“Helminth infections can be effectively treated with cheap, single-dose oral drugs,” said Jan Kolaczinski, Malaria Consortium’s NTD specialist. “At present, however, supply of and access to treatment in health facilities in Uganda is inadequate. There is also a lack of awareness among health staff about the safety and benefits of treatment, while health workers need training and improved support. If the gains of ongoing investments into deworming campaigns are to be sustained, routine management and treatment of infections needs to become an integral part of health care delivery.”
The new initiative will tackle these issues over a one-year period alongside a large-scale malaria control project supported by Malaria Consortium and funded by Comic Relief. This project aims to reach high coverage and use of long-lasting insecticidal nets for malaria prevention, as well as ensuring caregivers know how to protect their families from malaria, believe in and act on this knowledge and are able to access the best globally available tools.
Integrated malaria and helminths control will initially be of direct benefit to approximately 20,000 outpatients and 100 health workers in the two target districts. Pregnant women and school-age children with be provided with deworming treatment when receiving antenatal or other health services.
A package of intervention measures to improve health worker performance, including job aides, external supervisory process, and a scheme for performance assessment and feedback, will also be developed. This package will both help ensure that the malaria and worm interventions are effectively provided and help strengthen the health system at the local level.
A health facility assessment will be conducted after one year to evaluate the operational feasibility of the intervention. Based on these findings, recommendations will be provided to the government of Uganda on how the intervention could be scaled up.
For more information, please contact Diana Thomas [email protected]