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Archive for the ‘Testing and treatment’ Category

Posted by Roy Mann, Rotary Member

Today was another active day in Zambia’s Copperbelt. Our Rotary delegation went in two different directions, one to Luanshya and another to Mufulira—almost on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Buchi Clinic Kitwe

I was in the latter group that began with a visit to Kitwe’s Buchi clinic. There we encountered palpable suffering – pregnant women with malaria, and a long dark corridor filled with people waiting to be screened for malaria and other illnesses. The maternity ward did not have insecticide-treated bednets and there was a stagnant pool of water right outside of the window. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria as pregnancy reduces a woman’s immunity to malaria and increases the risk of spontaneous abortion and stillbirths.

There was quite a contrast between the Buchi public clinic in Kitwe and the privately operated Malcolm Watson Hospital run by the Mopani Copper mines where we met Rotarian Dr. Frederick Kaoma. This facility is open to all Mopani mines staff and their families and also available to the general public if they can pay for their services.

ITN hand over, mufulira

Rotarians delivering bednets in Mufulira

Dr. Frederick led us to an orphanage supported by the Mufulira Rotary Club that cares for some 150 children. We delivered a new soccer ball and some bed nets. We also handed bed nets to young mothers at the Rotary funded Murunu Health Center. . . I’m inspired by my new Rotarian friends from Zambia who, along with the PATH-MACEPA folks, embody a common principle that motivates us all – Service Above Self!

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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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Posted by Jim Moore, Seattle Rotary

Malaria test

Jim gets tested for malaria during Zambia's World Malaria Day celebration

After 30 plus hours of traveling, John Adams, Roy Mann, and I finally arrived in Lusaka last night. Unfortunately our luggage didn’t make it with us, but we’ve since learned that it arrived in Lusaka this afternoon and we may have clean clothes later tonight. We set off at 6 a.m. this morning to Mpongwe for the World Malaria Day (WMD) event. Traveling with us on the bus were Rotarians from the Chipata, Livingstone, Mongu, and Chongwe clubs and we will be joined tonight by Rotarians from Kabwe, Kalulushi, Kasama, Kitwe, Luanshya, Mufulira, and Ndola. Many of them were at the WMD event in Mpongwe when we arrived.

One of the things that really impressed me during WMD was Zambians getting tested for malaria infection. The Malaria Consortium had set up a tent and invited everyone to be tested. I was particularly moved watching the mothers. The Mpongwe mothers were among the first to line up to get tested. They sat stoically getting their fingers pricked and blood tested, often nursing their young infants at the same time. Then they would promptly prepare their infants’ fingers to get their blood sampled, too. Many babies wailed in anticipation, others sat quiety. After 15 minutes of patiently waiting, the moms and babes got their test results back. If their results were positive, they would receive malaria medicine to treat the infection. Mothers in Zambia are like mothers around the world—they want the very best for their children and will do whatever they can to make it possible. Though not a mom, I, too, was tested, and am happy to report that the results were negative!

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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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