We have been working on NTD control in a number of African countries since 2005, conducting situational analyses and reviewing possible interventions for NTD control in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Mozambique.
Malaria Consortium’s focus is on ensuring access to effective prevention and treatment for a range of NTDs, including Dengue, Onchocerciasis (river blindness), Lymphatic Filariasis (elephantiasis), Schistosomiasis (bilharzia), Trachoma and Soil-Transmitted Helminths (intestinal hookworm, whipworm and roundworm), especially for those who are most vulnerable.
Our strategy supports, where possible, the integration of malaria and NTDs at all levels and where these diseases are co-endemic. We focus on the need to develop new responses to the current NTD challenges while adhering to the World Health Organization’s guiding principles. We also promote a holistic approach that emphasises the engagement of the education sector, the community and the primary healthcare structure.
We design our programmes to incorporate internationally-accepted procedures on NTD prevention and management, and to fit into existing health and community structures to avoid any parallel, unsustainable system. We also acknowledge that one size does not fit all so we support the integration of our NTD interventions into those already being used for malaria or other diseases and that reflect local endemicity and country priorities.
Vector control: Malaria Consortium supports integrated vector control activities for insect vector-borne diseases in our core areas of work, depending on needs and disease burden. For example, Malaria Consortium studied the association between mosquito net usage and the disease burden of leishmaniasis, and we are looking into assessing the impact of the most effective intervention to prevent malaria, such as long lasting insecticidal nets, on lymphatic filariasis. We are also addressing vector control by engaging communities in malaria and dengue vector control via social research studies aimed at understanding community perceptions and acceptance of specific vector control strategies
Preventive treatment: Malaria Consortium is using its experience in the mass distribution of long lasting insecticidal nets and seasonal malaria chemoprevention to improve mass drug administration for NTDs. In countries where a national plan for blanket treatment is already in place, we are using primary schools, primary healthcare centres and major community gathering points as distribution sites for mass drug administration to reach both school enrolled and non-enrolled children, as well as adults. Where the disease burden is very low and yet treatment is needed, we are seeking to integrate preventive chemotherapy and/or NTD treatment within the primary healthcare system.
Case management: Malaria Consortium has many years of experience building capacity and supporting community-level health workers to recognise, diagnose, treat and refer children under five suffering from malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. For NTDs, we are using our expertise in community-based delivery systems and integrated community case management to align NTD interventions and create cost-effective platforms. Both primary health care systems and community structures are engaged in case management. The first is the primary platform to deliver essential treatment for diseases that cannot be managed through preventive chemotherapy, while the community is an essential component to support the primary health care system in case detection at early stages and home care management for disability related to untreated NTDs.
Health system effectiveness and efficiency: We support governments by providing evidence-based guidance and implementation support for disease prevention, control and management strategies. We do this by assessing their current health system, and designing and implementing sustainable solutions, tailored both to endemicity and current capacity. Practical activities that we support include disease mapping, especially NTDs that are not treatable through preventive chemotherapy; gap analysis of the health structure resources; and health information management systems in reporting NTDs. We also assist in the development of tools for recording patient attendance, triage, diagnosis, disease confirmation, treatment, follow up and cure for priority NTDs and malaria. The final goal is to facilitate the primary health care system in understanding disease trends and using data for disease control and surveillance
Advocacy: We are also undertaking various advocacy activities on NTDs and we are an active member of the UK Coalition Against NTDs where we support efforts to foster communication and information sharing between all agencies invested in NTD control through the Coalition membership. This collective approach is vital in the support of long term sustainable control and elimination of NTDs and ensuring that they are included within national, regional and international health development frameworks.
See our NTD Position Paper for more details on our approach.