Malaria: Our Impact

 {Photo credit: Sheila Mwebaze/MSH}Community health worker Betty Achilla examines a baby at one of the 31 households she supports.Photo credit: Sheila Mwebaze/MSH

Eight years ago, Betty Achilla was selected by her community to be a volunteer community health worker. She is currently serving 31 households in the Abim district in Northeastern Uganda. Betty is one of more than 60,000 volunteer community health workers in Uganda who play a vital role in extending maternal and child health services to hard-to-reach communities.As a community health worker, Betty was trained in the basics of diagnosing and dispensing medicines to treat common childhood illnesses such as malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia and to identify danger signs in children and refer them to nearby health centers. To do her work, Betty must have an adequate and consistent supply of malaria rapid diagnostic tests, antimalarial medicines, oral rehydration solution, zinc, and antibiotics.

 {Photo credit: UHSC/MSH staff}A pharmacist dispenses medicines to a patient at Arua Regional Referral Hospital.Photo credit: UHSC/MSH staff

Uganda experienced a large number of malaria cases in April and May 2019. While this would normally correlate with patterns of seasonality, the season’s peak extended past May, with the highest number of observed cases recorded in July 2019.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}Pharmacists at KIU Teaching Hospital view data in the Pharmaceutical Information PortalPhoto credit: MSH staff

Until 2012, Uganda’s public health supply chain was uncoordinated because the information needed to estimate quantities of essential medicines and health supplies was not readily available. A national centralized platform to track routine monitoring of stock levels, share information to support data-driven decisions, and provide accountability of funds and commodities did not exist. Without knowledge of stock levels, funding could not be properly allocated to procure needed commodities.

{Photo credit: MSH staff}Photo credit: MSH staff

COVID-19 is changing how malaria projects maintain programming in Nigeria. Before the pandemic, trainings and capacity-building efforts were conducted face-to-face, coupled with breakout sessions, where attendees huddled to discuss a topic or idea in-depth. But as public health experts recommend physical distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus, face-to-face interactions are no longer considered a safe way to meet or share knowledge. To bridge this communications gap, organizations and programs worldwide are now utilizing virtual resources—an approach that has not been widely tested in training large groups of people in Nigeria, especially health care workers.

 {Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH}A mother and her child sit under their bednet in Vohipeno, Madagascar.Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

While progress against malaria in the last 20 years has been significant, many people continue to suffer and die from this preventable and treatable disease. Malaria is among the leading causes of child mortality in Africa. In 2018, nearly 900,000 children in 38 African countries were born with a low birth weight due to malaria in pregnancy, and children under five still accounted for two-thirds of all malaria deaths worldwide.

{Photo credit: MSH staff}Photo credit: MSH staff

It’s early morning, but Rebecca Owolabi, a nursing officer at the Isokun Maternity Center in Ilesha in Osun State, Nigeria, is already providing group counseling on malaria prevention in pregnancy to women visiting the facility for antenatal care. She counsels them on the importance of sleeping under an insecticide treated bednet and seeking treatment at the first sign of malaria. Also, as preventive therapy, she hands two tablets of sulphadoxine pyrimethamine (SP) to the women, who then swallow them with water.

A group of PMI-S and NMEP stakeholders gather to review the e-toolkit.

Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, now exceeding 200 million, and is home to 25% of the world’s malaria burden. Over the years, donors and implementing partners working with the National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP) in Nigeria have had difficulty accessing strategic documents required to effectively implement malaria programs.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

MSH’s President and CEO, Marian W. Wentworth, will join the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Malaria Vaccine Advisory Committee (MALVAC) for a two-year appointment.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

What is the purpose of the USAID-funded Medicines, Technologies, and Pharmaceuticals Services (MTaPS) program, and what will the program accomplish?MTaPS recently published a collection of brief publications that provide information on the program’s objectives and planned activities.

 {Photo credit: Erik Schouten/MSH}Alinafe flood camp, Chikwawa district, Malawi.Photo credit: Erik Schouten/MSH

In March, heavy rains following Tropical Cyclone Idai devastated Malawi. The storm injured 677 people; 59 died. According to the Malawi government, some 87,000 people were displaced from their homes. Some families spent nights in school-based emergency shelters, while classrooms teemed with students during the day. Some lived in tents, sometimes shared among four to five people. Others had to fend for themselves, building makeshift shelters from scavenged materials. The storm also ravaged the crops and livestock most families rely on for food and income.

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