Malaria Consortium’s participation in this year’s Guardian International Development Journalism Competition has seen our finalists travel to Nigeria and Uganda. Both topics chosen this year for the journalists focus on the future of malaria control and how we are moving forward after the significant gains of the past few years in both these countries.
Charlotte Jenner, the amateur journalist, travelled to Nigeria to find out what happens next after mass net distribution. The net distribution campaigns have seen unprecedented success in Nigeria with approximately 30,000,000 nets being distributed. Charlotte's brief was to look at the vital next phase in malaria control and at how the achievements to date can be sustained.
Charlotte, a freelance researcher, met with the National Malaria Control Programme in Nigeria to discuss the government’s targets for malaria control over the next few years and what steps are being taken in order to achieve them. She was also able to meet with representatives from the UK Government Department for International Development DFID, Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Program and the World Bank, as well as with staff from the Malaria Consortium led Support to National Malaria Programme (SuNMaP). Charlotte travelled to Kano in Northern Nigeria to see first-hand what effect mass distributions of long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) had had on the communities. Her research and interviews also took a more in depth look at what will happen as the end of the nets’ three-year lifespan is fast approaching. LLINs are currently being distributed routinely in Nigeria through ante-natal clinics and being given free to pregnant women and children under five. Malaria Consortium is supporting the Government and its partners to reach as many women and children as possible through this system and is aiming to sensitise people on the importance of using the nets in the correct way. SuNMaP is also focusing on the strengthening of the commercial sector in order to ensure that people who are not able to receive a free net are is able to access LLINs and remain protected from malaria. Charlotte's final article, "Net Gains in the Malaria War", is available to read here.
The professional freelance finalist, Paige McClanahan, travelled to Uganda to find out more about what effect Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) for malaria can have in resource poor settings. The Uganda National Malaria Strategy has recently changed, following World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, to state that treatment for malaria should be based on parasitological rather than presumptive diagnosis. The strategy is aiming for 85 percent access to diagnostics by 2015.
Paige, through her meetings with Malaria Consortium staff, National Malaria Control programme representatives, the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) among others was able to understand in more depth how RDTs are working globally and more specifically in Uganda and how these are shaping the future of malaria control and interventions moving forward. Paige also travelled to Hoima and Kyankwanzi districts to meet with district and community health workers who are using RDTs and to see what effect it is having on their work. Paige visited a training of district level trainers who will be training facility health workers on the use of RDTs. The trainers and health workers seemed confident thatthe RDTs could make a real difference in helping them to understand the actual number of malaria cases, preserving precious anti-malarial drugs and treating people for the right illness. Malaria Consortium is supporting health facility and community health workers to use RDTs. Paige's final article, "A matter of time", is available to read here.
Malaria Consortium enjoyed travelling and working with the journalists who both showed a passion for these important topics.
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