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Archive for the ‘MACEPA’ Category

Posted by Jim Moore, Rotary Member

On Sunday night we held a working dinner with representatives from nine Rotary Clubs.  Besides traditional Rotary fellowship, the main purpose of the dinner was to begin to specify the next steps that should be taken in implementing the Second Century Malaria Control and Eradication Project.  Though the hour was late and almost everyone had participated in a full schedule of events over the weekend, our fellow Rotarians got down to work—all of them.

Jim speaking at World Malaria Day in Mpongwe, Zambia

Rotary Club members, their skills, their connections, and their dedication to service are the key resource that would be brought to bear on the fight against malaria.  To be effective and have a sustained impact on malaria, Copperbelt-based Rotarians recognized that their projects must fit into the overall anti-malaria plan at the district and local levels.  Consequently, they should start with a cooperative session with District Health Management Teams aimed at identifying the gaps and local needs in the DHMT’s annual plan that can be filled by Rotarians.  Implicit in this concept of “gaps and needs” were villages units and entities such as schools and orphanages.  A Rotary Club could adopt one or more villages and/or entities for sustained anti-malaria actions including distributing insecticide treated nets, environmental management (draining stagnant water sources, cleaning water channels to promote flow, etc.), malaria education campaigns (media and curriculum delivery), diagnostic testing through community health workers, and indoor residual spraying—singly or in combination.

Pregnant mothers with bednets at Mpongwe Mission Hospital

It was more than heartening to hear the clarity and passion expressed by Zambian Rotarians about their roles in the fight to eliminate malaria.  At the end of the evening, Modestine Kaoma of the Mufulira Rotary Club rose to give visiting Rotarians and MACEPA/PATH staff a warm and emotional thank you.  “There are no words to adequately express how much we appreciate your leaving your homes in Seattle to come this long way to work with us and make our battle against malaria your battle too.  You have deeply touched our hearts.”

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Posted by Kent Campbell, PATH Malaria Control Program Director

We’ve just concluded an extraordinary morning here at the PATH office in Seattle. The area’s best and brightest in the global malaria community gathered at PATH headquarters in Seattle today to commemorate the third annual World Malaria Day and the lineup was impressive: Seattle BioMed, Rotary, Episcopal Relief and Development, World Vision, Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network, University of Washington, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative.

Over recent weeks as the event really took shape, I was struck by the remarkable the number partners within a 20-mile radius of PATH with whom we have the privilege of working. Gathering all in the same room to share progress, breakthroughs, and challenges—work that is happening in our community every single day—was truly inspiring. Over 150 scientists, researchers, community members, and other partners who attended the event heard from those of you who are in the late stages of developing the world’s most clinically advanced malaria vaccine candidate, other working at NGOs with “boots on the ground” distributing nets who are forging lasting partnerships at the community level (where the real hope for sustainability resides), and Rotarians who are traveling across the globe support Zambia’s malaria control work as part of their commitment “to do good in the world”.  And we were also joined this morning with presentations from Dr. Rob Newman from WHO’s Global Malaria Program and Dr. Rick Steketee from PATH’s own Malaria Control Program, both broadcasting from Ferney-Voltaire, France.

We last met in 2007 to benchmark global progress in malaria control and our commitment to fighting malaria—and our partnership in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States—is stronger than ever. The intense and diverse range of effort that we heard about this morning is helping change the malaria control landscape and these gatherings are strengthening our vibrant, ever-expanding malaria community. We at PATH are grateful to be a part of such a community and to be afforded the opportunity to once again gather together to benchmark this groundbreaking progress in fighting the disease. We have now reached a critical juncture in the fight against malaria and cannot wait to let three years pass until we meet again.

A 6-minute video clip of World Malaria Day events over the last couple of days in Zambia can be seen below. It gives you a quick glimpse at very recent activities, mostly related to the Seattle Rotarians’ visit to launch a partnership with Zambian Rotarians. And you can enjoy watching Hon Minister of Health Simbao scoring a goal against malaria!

 

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We had a packed house as the malaria community gathered at PATH headquarters in Seattle to commemorate World Malaria Day today!  Photos, video, and a full write-up to follow shortly. Stay tuned!

Front row (left to right): Regina Rabinovich (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Stefan Kappe (Seattle BioMed), Carol Sibley (University of Washington, WWARN)

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Posted by John Adams, Rotary Member

Seattle Rotary #4 was active with the Rotary Malaria Control Project on World Malaria Day today, with a team on the ground in Zambia.  Jim Moore, Roy Mann and John Adams all attended several events related to malaria eradication. 

We joined with members of the Seattle PATH team in Zambia working on the MACEPA program, including Ben Cheng and Gena Morgan, and Mshuka Kamwela, who is based in MACEPA’s Lusaka office. We first visited with the District Commissioner of Health in Mpongwe.  There we presented three wheelchairs donated by our Rotary Club for the use of local children.

Donating a wheelchair in Mpongwe

The District Commissioner of Health, Ms. Minivan Mutes, gave us a briefing on the local malaria situation.  She gave an impassioned speech at the official launch of World Malaria day about community involvement in malaria eradication. 

We learned from Dr. Frederick Kaoma, from the Rotary Club of Mufulira, that many cases of cerebral palsy here in Zambia are caused by malaria, when pregnant mothers cannot provide adequate oxygen to their babies at birth because of malaria-induced anemia.  These children often require wheelchairs for life to assist with mobility.

During our discussion with the District Commissioner of Health, she asked if she could join Rotary!  The Rotarians present said they would be sure to sponsor her.  Modestine Kaoma, a local Rotarian, explained the four-way-test to her with such passion we all applauded.  We then all joined and sang ‘happy birthday’ and gave a wheelchair to a boy on his 15th birthday.

Community health workers in Ibenge

The next stop was the Ibenge Clinic.  Here we observed community health workers giving new insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs) to pregnant mothers and young women.  These bednets can protect expectant mothers from the common miscarriages that can result from malaria infection. 

There were several dozen young mothers who received free bednets and they were highly appreciative.  Children ages one to five years are particularly vulnerable to malaria.  For each mother, the chance of having her children live a normal lifespan is very personal and her highest priority.

Distributing nets to pregnant women and young children in Ibenge

In Zambia, the volunteer community health workers, such as those we saw providing bednets at the Ibenge clinic, are in the front lines, helping the local community health departments to implement malaria control interventions prescribed by the National Malaria Control Centre.  MACEPA and the local Rotary teams work with these volunteers in the national effort to eliminate malaria.

We stopped at an outdoor market on the way home, and the young women at the fish stalls were drumming, singing and dancing with joy in the early sunset.  It was infectious in the best sense, and was a happy and fitting end to our afternoon of Rotary service projects.

In the evening, we had a formal dinner with the members of eight local rotary clubs. Jim Moore led a discussion of “The Way Forward”, which helped each of the eight clubs to plan how to work towards elimination of malaria in Zambia.  The structured workshop helped each club to identify club personnel resources, the malaria control components of their current Rotary projects, their relationships with the local District Health commissioners and a section on planning for partnering strategies.

Jim asked two key questions:  “What are the next steps for your club?” and “What can we do for you at Seattle 4 and Rotary International?”  There were many resolutions about projects the eight clubs want to implement and useful recommendations that we will bring back with us to share with Rotary Club #4 on how we may help these clubs.

PATH and the MACEPA program were the facilitators for all of these meetings, and have provided a combination of inspiration, vision, and flawless execution of logistics and scheduling.  We are convinced that Rotary #4, working with Rotary International and local clubs in communities in Zambia, can take simple and effective steps that will help prevent malaria in the region and ultimately save thousands of lives.

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Posted by Catherine Seneviratne, MACEPA Project Administrator

Helping out with the 2010 Malawi Malaria Indicator Survey was the first time I had really ever participated in fieldwork.  I have worked in Zambia and Ethiopia before, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the trip—and what stuck with me wasn’t what I expected.  I’ve heard quite a bit about politicians, donors, and national governments helping to fight malaria, but what moved me the most during my trip was hearing stories from people who are out in the field working with sick people every day: the nurses, the lab technicians, the health workers.

Taking medication

Showing a young child how to treat his malaria

I arrived in Malawi in March, and my second day helping to implement the actual survey was spent with a group outside the town of Dedza.  I was lucky enough to be working with two lab techs, two nurses, and someone helping to map all the houses we stopped at. It was really amazing to watch these people work and see how they adapted to every difficult situation, providing the best care possible to every person we tested for malaria.

I watched as one particular lab tech named Makamo took the lead at a household.  He did everything perfectly, just as he was taught at the training.  The lab tech tested a 5-year-old boy who came up positive for both anemia and malaria. Just as the tech was finishing up, he went off course slightly.  He gave the mother medicine for her son—CoArtem—and instructed her on proper administration of the drug, then he asked her to repeat back to him how to use it.  I had attended the training and knew how lab techs are told to handle these situations, but I don’t remember that step.

After the mother proved she understood the treatment, the lab tech then went to the sick boy and told him how to the drug was going to be administered.  He asked the boy questions to make sure he understood, that he would take all the medication needed to make him get better.  It may seem like a little detail, but it could be the difference between that little boy staying sick and getting well.  The tech wasn’t just giving the mother the drugs—he was empowering her.  She now understood what she could do to make her son better.  He also told her which signs would tell her whether her son was sick with malaria again.

Planning is important, so is training and procurement, but having people who care at every level can make all the difference in the fight against malaria.

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Published by Todd Jennings, MACEPA Communications Officer

For many Zambians the nearest health facility might be 10, 20 or even 50 miles away.  So what do you do when your daughter is huddled on her mat, sweating from fever then shaking from chills?  You don’t have money for transport and your bicycle isn’t much good after days of heavy rains.  Until recently your only choice would have been the medicines in the local store, or herbs from a traditional healer. 

blood test 

The key is to first determine what your daughter is suffering from.  But how?  Thanks to the advent of rapid diagnostic tests, or RDTs, and the government’s decision to supply them nationwide, confirming malaria even in rural areas is now part of health service delivery in Zambia.  Just as important is adding RDTs to the Community Health Worker kits so the front line of health care can better assess disease at the household level.

Before, malaria diagnosis was done at a few clinics that had working microscopes and returning later for the results (assuming there was trained personnel to read blood slides).  This led to presumptive treatment—giving all who showed up with the symptoms of malaria the treatment for malaria, just to be safe.  Now RDTs at clinics and with community health workers means a few drops of blood and in 10 minutes you will know if your daughter has malaria.  If malaria is confirmed, then the community health worker is able to provide the appropriate treatment.

In advance of this year’s World Malaria Day event in Mpongwe on the Copperbelt, Community Health Workers today underwent an RDT refresher training.  During the national launch event on Friday these same health workers will be conducting malaria testing (and treatment).  If you are in the area stop on by and get tested!

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Recording household data

Recording household data with a handheld personal digital assistant

Posted by Chris Lungu, MACEPA Monitoring and Evaluation Officer

The rainy season is wrapping up and it just took me more than two days to drive the 700 kilometers back to Zambia’s capital from Lilongwe, Malawi, where I was helping to conduct the country’s first national malaria indicator survey (MIS).  Driving through Malawi is very nice. The country has beautiful trees, there is Lake Malawi and good fish to eat. But when you are on the road, it can be easy to forget about some of the important things that you can’t see—like so many young children that are home sick with malaria, some of them fighting for their lives. 

Sorting supplies

Sorting medicines, diagnostics and other supplies needed to conduct survey work

I was in Malawi for almost two months, where I met daily with staff from the Malawi National Malaria Control Program to help lay the groundwork for the country’s malaria indicator survey, agreeing on indicators, mobilizing logistics, training people to use PDAs, and then going out in the field and doing the work. The days we were out in the field were long, spent testing children for malaria, treating the ones that tested positive, and recording data.

I’ve been on the road a lot during the last several years, working in the malaria control frontlines in Zambia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, but this type of work always moves me, because there are human lives at stake. When you are out in the field, you see all these problems in front of you and you know someone has to do something about it. This is our contribution – MACEPA’s contribution – to really help countries deal with malaria. The malaria indicator survey shows where the problems are happening and provides us with the information we need to do something about it.

This is an especially important time for Malawi to conduct an MIS, because their ten-year national malaria strategic plan is coming to an end in June and they need this national data to inform planning for the next decade. Malawi is on schedule to finish their survey work on April 26, the day after World Malaria Day, and for the first time we’ll have powerful data to talk about at the national level. A lot of people are interested in these results and I won’t be surprised if the MIS becomes a tool for mobilizing efforts and resources in the country. Having seen it in Ethiopia and Zambia, I feel confident that this can be the tool that will change the malaria landscape in Malawi.

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