Akros partners with College of William and Mary’s AidData, selected as one of DREAMS Challenge winners

By Akros Media on August 5, 2016 in HIV/AIDS, News

On July 18, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan For Aids Relief (PEPFAR), announced the provisional winners of its $85 million DREAMS innovation challenge to reduce HIV/AIDS rates among adolescent girls and women in sub-Saharan African countries.

Akros is excited to announce that we will be working with the College of William and Mary’s AidData research lab to help policymakers in Zambia make healthcare decisions based on the best available data.
The DREAMS challenge points out that, despite considerable progress in the global response to the epidemic, AIDS is the leading cause of death for adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. Girls and young women account for 75 percent of all new HIV infections among adolescents in the region, and more than 7,000 new infections a week globally.

DREAMS is an ambitious public-private program whose partners include, in addition to PEPFAR, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences, and Viiv Healthcare. PEPFAR is administered by the U.S. Department of State, and implemented by a number of U.S. government agencies, including DoS and USAID. By improving targeting and resource coordination, PEPFAR programs, particularly those focused on women, girls, orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) can reach more beneficiaries more efficiently and effectively.

Akros and AidData are excited to utilize our combined years of experience to develop solutions in the fight against HIV/AIDS here in Zambia. Learn more about the DREAMS Innovation Challenge at www.dreamschallenge.org.

Zambia Systems for Better Health consortium created

By Akros Media on November 9, 2015 in Capacity Building, Health Data Systems, News

USAID has awarded a new consortium a $54 million contract for a five year health systems strengthening project. Akros will be one member of the consortium led by Abt Associates that also includes the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the Broadreach Institute for Training and Education, Imperial Health Sciences, Initiatives, Inc., and Save the Children. Over the next five years, the consortium will collaborate with the Ministry of Health at all levels to strengthen the systems that underpin the delivery of high quality health services and increase the utilization of high impact health interventions at district and community levels.

The health systems strengthening strategies include an emphasis on five major program areas:

1. HIV – strengthening of systems that underpin the delivery of high impact HIV prevention, care and treatment services in high prevalence districts;

2. Family Planning – information and services to promote the delay, spacing and limiting births;

3. Nutrition –interventions at community level in Eastern Province aimed at reducing chronic malnutrition;

4. Maternal and Newborn Health – strengthening demand and services for safe delivery and newborn care; and

5. Child Survival – including Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) and Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI).

This program builds on the success achieved by the Zambia Integrated Systems Strengthening Program (ZISSP) that was implemented from 2010 to 2014.

Real-Time Monitoring of Rural Sanitation at Scale in Zambia Using Mobile-to-Web Technologies

By Akros Media on August 3, 2015 in News, Water and Sanitation Health

Akros has been working with UNICEF and the Government of the Republic of Zambia to support Zambia’s goal of being “Open Defecation Free” by 2020. This recent WASH Field Note, released by UNICEF, details some of the progress achieved thus far, along with lessons learned along the way. Click here to read the full note.

Here are some excerpts:

“The M2W system was developed in 2013 for monitoring rural sanitation and hygiene by UNICEF and its technical partner Akros, under the lead of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing of Zambia. The system utilizes the Short Message Service (SMS) text delivery system found on most basic mobile phones and is coded using the open source District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS2). This is a free, open-source software originally designed for health applications, but is currently being used in 40 countries under various sectors, from water management to agriculture and forestry.”

“Over the past year, the system has been put in place in 29 out of 92 rural districts which are now submitting monthly reports through 1,564 Community Volunteers and 210 Environmental Health Technicians; over 1,500 phones and tablets are now operational and being utilized by the trained counterparts. This covers a total
population of 2,383,704 from 13,805 villages. In addition, 32 Chiefdoms have been trained in using the monitoring tools. Within the areas covered by M2W, the programme aims to achieve 1,520,661 new users of improved sanitation and to raise the practice of handwashing with soap or ash from 8.6% to 47%.”

Click here to read the full note.

Crowdfunding for Zambia’s Healthy Schools

By Akros Media on July 28, 2015 in News, Water and Sanitation Health

We’re excited to announce a new undertaking that we’re calling “Zambia’s Healthy Schools.” It’s a crowdfunding campaign that will allow our partnership with the Government of the Republic of Zambia to raise the standards of sanitation and hygiene at schools right here in Zambia.

Click here to learn more.

Every year of education improves a person’s health and quality of life. This is a universal fact, as true in rural Africa where every year of education means less child and maternal mortality as it is in metropolitan Washington, DC where every year of education means fewer deaths. One of the big barriers to keeping kids in school in rural Africa is a lack of sanitation facilities and no access to clean water. When girls hit puberty they miss one week every month because there is no safe place at school for them to address their needs. Also the lack of toilets at schools means kids can get sick even when they’re at school. Throughout rural Zambia, schools are simply not healthy nor safe.

But what if we turned this around? What if students could go to school, have a safe place to address their sanitation needs and learn the best practices of sanitation, about germs and proper washing? What if they could learn about the importance of using a latrine, and then take that knowledge back to their families, spreading the news far and wide? We would see kids stay in school. We would see healthier students. We would see healthier communities. And as a result, we would help increase the quality of life for Zambians everywhere.

How will we do it? Click here to visit our crowdfunding page and learn more. We would love to have you join us in this effort!

WASH discussed in Huffington Post blog series

By Akros Media on June 1, 2015 in News, Water and Sanitation Health

The Huffington Post featured some news from the WASH movement last week in an article titled “Promoting WASH Through Traditional Leaders and Technology,” co-authored by Akros CEO Anna Winters and Akros Director of Public Health David Larsen. The piece explores the way the government of the Republic of Zambia, with technical assistance from Akros and other partners, has been working with Zambia’s traditional leaders or “chiefs” to have a drastic impact on sanitation practices at the local level.

Click here to read the article.

The story was part of a series supported by WASH Advocates on the relationship between WASH and the Millennium Development Goals. Click here to see all the articles in the series.

Chienge District’s Accomplishments celebrated on NPR blog

By Akros Media on May 28, 2015 in News, Water and Sanitation Health

On April 24th, Zambia’s Chiengi District was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF), meaning that every household in Chiengi district has a latrine that meets specific parameters to stop the disease vector, thus improving household health through better sanitation.

This is the first district in Zambia, and the first in Southern Africa to reach this momentous milestone. Officials from the Zambian government and dignitaries from DFID, UNICEF and Akros traveled two days to celebrate with Chiengi.

Click here to read a story from NPR’s Goats and Soda blog highlighting the celebration.

GRZ/Akros highlighted in DHIS2 newsletter

By Akros Media on April 16, 2015 in Capacity Building, Health Data Systems, Malaria, News

The creators of DHIS2 at the University of Oslo highlighted Akros this month in their most recent newsletter. They shared a prezi that walks through how DHIS2 is used in Zambia, specifically the innovative new system The Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) has created with technical assistance from Akros, to reach its goal of eliminating malaria country-wide by 2020. One of the components of this system centers around community-level malaria surveillance and leverages community health worker (CHW) networks in two main areas:

1. Finding, treating and reporting all malaria infections in the community
2. Reducing the burden of outpatient care and staff work load at the health facility through expanding access to malaria diagnosis and treatment by CHWs at community level.

Check out the prezi below, then click here to learn more about Akros’ work in community-level malaria surveillance.

[icon size=”22″]icon-file[/icon] Download a PDF about community-level surveillance.

GRZ NMCC modular lab highlighted in AJTM artcile

By Akros Media on January 28, 2015 in Capacity Building, Malaria, News

Akros Director of Research, Daniel Bridges, along with CEO Anna Winters and other partners recently published an article in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene on the use of shipping containers to support basic science, clinical research projects, and health services – all uses often lacking in the developing world. The article is titled “Modular Laboratories—Cost-Effective and Sustainable Infrastructure for Resource-Limited Settings” and appears in the December 2014 issue.

Authors of the article drew on their knowledge of modular lab implementations, including an installation made at the National Malaria Control Centre in Lusaka.

Akros joins MESA Track

By Akros Media on December 23, 2014 in Capacity Building, Malaria, News

The Akros research portfolio is now available on the MESA Track database.

MESA Track is a freely available database of research projects relevant to the malaria elimination and eradication agenda. The Akros team worked with MESA to ready its research portfolio for the launch at ASTMH in New Orleans in November.

Akros joins many other leading groups on the MESA Track such as the NIH ICEMR network, MACEPA, and CHAI. MESA Track is a living and growing database. It is open for any research organization or scientist to submit their research portfolio.

Akros and MESA are collaborating partners.

Akros recognized in Zambian Govt. publication

By Akros Media on August 1, 2014 in News

The Akros WASH team has been recognized again for their work in the Community-Led Total Sanitation Program. The May issue of the Zambia National Sanitation Programme’s newsletter contributes the entire first page to highlighting the progress in sanitation health across the country spearheaded by the Akros team.

In an excerpt from the newsletter, the author writes:

Akros developed an innovative and concise surveillance platform using low-cost mobile phones combined with simple protocols for reporting and analysis – protocols which could be easily managed by local counterparts. The protocols and tools were piloted in September of 2013, then rapidly scaled through October and November. … These numbers are impressive, in fact unprecedented, for the sub-Saharan Africa region. Even more impressive is that the Akros WASH team has achieved these gains at a fraction of the normal cost for CLTS management.

Click here to read the full newsletter.