Zambia Commemorates World Malaria Day

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on April 28, 2015 in Malaria, News

LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA The Government of Zambia in collaboration with various stakeholders that included E8, WHO, Roll Back Malaria, Gates Foundation, MACEPA/ PATH and Akros gathered today in Kabuyu, Kazungula District to commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day under the theme “Invest in the future, eliminate malaria”.

“Kazungula District has recorded a decline in the incidence of malaria since 2005 from 150 per 1,000 to 4 per 1,000 in 2011,” said Dr. Phallon Mwaba, Kazungula District Medical Officer. “However, the incidence rose to 34 per 1,000 in 2014 due to the introduction of Active Surveillance programme in 2012 which collected data in the community and included it in our Health Management Information System (HMIS),” said Dr. Mwaba in his speech. “The above is a positive result to us as the 34 per 1,000 recorded in 2014 includes all cases in Kazungula District,” he added.

“We are having challenges in eliminating malaria in the area because of the imported cases we record from other districts,” said Lubinda Mushala, Kazungula District Malaria Focal Point Person. “In fact, the majority of the cases recorded are imported from other districts,” Mushala said.

Zambia to Celebrate World Malaria Day in Livingstone

By Akros Media on April 20, 2015 in Malaria, News

World Malaria Day is celebrated each year on April 25, commemorating the work that has gone into fighting the disease and driving efforts to continue towards its elimination. The theme for this year is “Invest in the future, eliminate malaria.” Zambia will be commemorating the event this year in Livingstone with round table discussions, visits to community health centers, and entertainment all aimed at spreading the malaria elimination agenda.

“World Malaria Day commemorates where we are in the malaria fight and where we are headed,” said Anna Winters, CEO of Akros, an organization working in several facets of malaria control and elimination here in Zambia. “Zambia has made huge strides such that some areas of the country are closing in on elimination,” she said.

Over the past four years Akros has been working with the Government of Zambia on an innovative, community-level malaria surveillance system that leverages community health workers (CHWs) to:

  1. Find, treat and, report all malaria infections in the community
  2. Reduce the burden of outpatient care and staff work load at the health facility through expanding access to malaria diagnosis and treatment by CHWs at the community level

“Community-level malaria surveillance has helped to ensure the district data is a true reflection of the malaria burden because the data is generated by both the Health Facilities and the Community Health Workers,” said Dr. Mwaba Phallon B., District Medical Officer of Kazungula District. “In fact, there are more cases being recorded at the Community level than the health facilities. This helps the district in planning for malaria control activities effectively based on a true representation of the hot spots. Unveiling cases at the community level as well as active detection of cases in the area surrounding the index case also ensures that the parasite is eliminated very quickly without allowing it to multiply. This way, it is envisaged that malaria elimination could be achieved if the program is sustained,” said Dr. Mwaba.

This community-level malaria surveillance approach has already been implemented in 11 districts in Zambia’s Central, Southern, and Western Provinces. 1,500 CHWs have been trained in follow-up, treatment, and reporting protocols required by the system, and the program has already led to an incredible 45.5% increase in the number of malaria cases identified and treated, a huge step forward for Zambia’s malaria elimination agenda. This strategy has also enhanced real time reporting by using a reactive case detection (RCD) protocol and instant transmission of information using phones into the DHIS2 database.

This year’s World Malaria Day commemoration will be held in Kazungula district beginning with a show case of elimination interventions at Kabuyu where Akros, in partnership with the Government and PATH/MACEPA, has worked with CHWs to implement community level malaria surveillance. This occasion is scheduled for 24th April, 2015 beginning at 08:00 hrs and will enable attendees to witness how these intervention efforts are practically deployed in the fight to eliminate malaria. This will be followed by a March Past, song and dance and speeches on Saturday in Livingstone at Mukuni Park.

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.

Kaunda Square Clinic increases efforts towards malaria elimination

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on March 9, 2015 in Malaria, News, Uncategorized

As Malaria declines in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, there has been a shift of focus from malaria control to elimination programs. In 2011, the Active Infection Detection (AID) program was introduced to Lusaka in an effort to eliminate malaria. Since its inception, a drastic reduction of malaria has been recorded making Lusaka a possible candidate for malaria elimination.

Kaunda Square clinic confirmed a total of 15 positive cases in January, all of which had a history of travel outside Lusaka. “In a month, we record about 5 to 10 cases of malaria, sometimes zero,” said Martin Kaluwaji, Kaunda Square clinic officer in charge.“ Among the positive cases we recorded, 99 percent are imported from outside Lusaka. In fact, in the last 4 years, we have not recorded a single locally transmitted case of malaria,” he added.

David Chibwe, 65, an artist and resident of Kaunda Square, states that he does not remember the last time he had malaria. After testing negative for malaria, he expressed happiness with the result stating that he sleeps under an insecticide treated mosquito net and keeps his surrounding free from long grass and stagnant water.

Handover of over 1,000 bicycles for malaria elimination program

By Akros Media on February 5, 2015 in Malaria

The elimination of malaria in five areas of Zambia by 2015 remains an ambitious goal for the Government of Zambia. The National Malaria Control Center (NMCC) under the Ministry of Health is implementing a 3-step strategy in parts of Southern Province to achieve this goal. The first step involves regular and rapid reporting of health facility malaria-related data on a weekly basis. This information, along with other sources is used to decide where Steps 2 and 3 are implemented. Step 2 involves a mass test and treat campaign, where whole villages are tested and treated for malaria if found with the parasite. This activity is targeted at medium to high malaria burden areas mainly along the Lake Kariba area. Step 3 involves the use of volunteer community health workers (CHWs) to follow up on malaria positive patients found at either health facility or health post levels. The CHWs test the patients’ households and their immediate neighbors. This activity has been rolled out in several districts of Southern and parts of Central Province where malaria cases are relatively low, such Kazungula, Namwala, Itezhi-tezhi, and Choma. CHWs carry out this activity voluntarily, and have diligently done so despite having to traverse vast distances in some cases. The NMCC and its partners have recognized this specific challenge and have procured over 1,000 bicycles for CHWs working in Choma, Pemba, Kalomo, Zimba, Monze, Mazabuka, Chikankata, Mumbwa, and Shibuyunji districts. This will hopefully ease some of the difficulties they face in trying to follow up on these cases in their communities.

The bicycles being given away are painted a bright orange representing the “Test4Life” Campaign, which urges the community at large to get tested for malaria before receiving treatment. The Government and its partners remain committed to eliminating malaria in these regions and ultimately in the whole country.

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.

The feasibility of Malaria Elimination in Kazungula District

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on December 24, 2014 in Malaria, News

The World Health Organisation defines malaria elimination as the permanent interruption of local mosquito-borne malaria transmission in a defined geographical area, usually at the country level. Zambia‘s National Malaria Strategic Plan of 2011-2015 calls for the establishment of five malaria free zones. With 2015 being a few weeks from now, we follow up on Kazungula District where malaria prevalence has drastically reduced over the years in order to ascertain the possibility of elimination.

Kazungula District lies on the north bank of Zambezi River about 70 km west of Livingstone, Zambia’s tourist capital. It is almost at the quadripoint where four countries nearly meet, namely Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. In this case, Kazungula risks importing and exporting malaria among these countries making elimination in the area difficult to achieve.

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.

Pilot using Android tablets to combat malaria is Conducted

By Zunda Chisha & Maswabi Precious Matantilo on October 4, 2014 in Health Data Systems, Malaria, News

Using technology to improve health systems is a large part of the Akros ethos. Since the inception of the malaria Active Infection Detection (AID) program in 2011 in the district of Lusaka, several successes have been scored in the fight against the disease. Much of this involved the development of a system to locate areas of potential local transmission of malaria in the heart of the capital. This allowed for better targeting of interventions, and the system continues to be improved.

Recently, another innovation was introduced to the district, the use of android-based tablets for data capture at clinics and during field responses. More than 30 Health workers – mainly environmental health technicians and nurses from five government clinics within Lusaka district – were selected to attend the electronic data training. The two-day training, organized by the Zambia Ministry of Health with technical assistance from Akros, also drew representation from the National Malaria Control Center and the District Community Health Management Team.

Training participants learn to use Android-based tablets.
Training participants learn to use Android-based tablets.

Using satellite enumeration for smart IRS planning

By Aniset Kamanga & Andy Prinsen on June 15, 2014 in Health Data Systems, Malaria, News

Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) is one of the most effective tools in the fight against malaria. In Zambia, technicians enter dwellings once per year and spray the wall surfaces of buildings with insecticides that kill mosquitos who land on the walls and deter others from entering. Since mosquitoes feed in the evening and at night when humans are indoors, the spraying can greatly reduce the number of bites that occur.

But in rural areas like Zambia’s Luapula and Central Provinces, it is unclear how many dwellings exist, and where those dwellings are located. Without this information, deciding where to spray the insecticides is very difficult, the planners having no way to effectively target IRS to houses in areas of the highest malaria burden. While IRS remains one of the most effective tools for fighting malaria, the pesticides are expensive and must be targeted effectively.

So how to correct for this information gap? How to find out where exactly these dwellings are located so that they can be targeted effectively? Historically, if dwelling enumeration was done, it was done on foot, enumerators visiting villages in person, identifying houses visually and noting the GPS coordinates with a handheld device. It’s not hard to imagine that this method is extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive – especially for a large-scale enumeration. Zambia’s Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health (MCDMCH) and Akros technicians found a solution that is at the same time cost-effective and accurate, providing the pinpoint sort of data required for a more effective IRS implementation.