Kaunda Square Clinic increases efforts towards malaria elimination

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.

First female Ward Counselor of Kabamba Speaks Of Her Journey

First female Ward Counselor of Kabamba Speaks Of Her Journey

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on February 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

The word ‘woman’ in certain societies spells weak, dependent, child bearer and incapable. This is not so different in Zambia as evidenced by the gender imbalances in various sectors, decision making positions being one of them. Zambia has started taking steps to correct this imbalance, even electing Ingonge Wina vice president this year. Despite these changes, many girls and women, especially in rural areas, remain trapped in the culturally constructed roles and responsibilities that keep them disadvantaged.

Gladys Yumba became the first female Ward Counselor for Kabamba in the Serenje District of Central Province after being elected to office in 2011. Her position entails linking the council to the people of her ward to enable development. She therefore plays an integral role in identifying needs and priorities of development with the local people and feeding that information in the municipality’s planning process. During her tenure of office, she was appointed to the position of council chairperson, a position she held for two and a half years.

Handover of over 1,000 bicycles for malaria elimination program

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

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.

CLTS creates demand for sanitation marketing and SLTS

CLTS creates demand for sanitation marketing and SLTS

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on January 19, 2015 in Capacity Building, News, Water and Sanitation Health

As chiefdoms attain an open defecation free (ODF) status in Zambia, they have begun looking at sanitation from a much broader perspective by looking for approaches that can be used to sustain adequate sanitation. This has necessitated the introduction of two approaches: sanitation marketing and school-led total sanitation (SLTS).

Sanitation marketing is an emerging field that applies social and commercial marketing approaches to scale up the supply and demand for improved sanitation facilities. It assists low-income households in gaining sustainable access to improved sanitation they want and can afford. Sanitation marketing is a new approach in Zambia, and was first introduced in Namwala district this year as a pilot, with the hope of learning from its implementation process and scaling it up to other provinces. The approach was introduced to chiefdom Mukobela where ODF status was attained in 2013. “Before the introduction of CLTS, the government tried building toilets for the community but they were not used. It was after triggering the chiefdom that we understood that the community needed a mind-set change, not actual toilets for starters,” said Kelvin Simukondwi, Namwala D-WASH Coordinator.

CLTS involves triggering, an approach aimed at stimulating a collective sense of fear, disgust and shame among community members as they confront the crude facts about mass open defecation and its negative impacts on the entire community. Activities include “transect walks” (tours of the village locating open defecation sites and tracing paths of contamination through water or animals), discussions, and the formulation of an action plan to become ODF.

Akros assists mapping of Ebola virus in Mali

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on January 2, 2015 in Capacity Building, Health Data Systems

As part of its humanitarian support to the Republic of Mali, Akros has been conducting a five-day mapping exercise of Bamako, Mali’s capital, which has been hit with the Ebola virus. The mapping exercise has been done with the use of OpenStreetMap (OSM), an open initiative to create and provide free geographic editable data of the world map. The community’s contributors include enthusiast mappers, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) professionals, engineers running the OSM servers and humanitarians mapping disaster-affected areas.

Akros, having health data systems at the centre of its work, has become part of this global mapping community and is currently working with other contributors to ensure that geographical data about Bamako is made available. Two GIS clerks have been working with supervision from Akros GIS experts in Lusaka to provide data on features such as highways, pedestrian paths, buildings, and water bodies. The mapping work Akros is conducting for Ebola efforts is very similar to activities conducted this past year to plan for and implement malaria interventions in Zambia. “Akros looks for opportunities to take methodologies or lessons learned in one sector and apply them to other areas of health to create impact,” said Akros CEO, Anna Winters. “Related to the devastating Ebola epidemic, we have wanted to support the critical field activities in anyway we can. Our team of GIS mappers have added great value by taking mapping methods we developed in sub-saharan Africa for malaria prevention and applying these to map Ebola-epidemic areas. These maps are extremely beneficial to plan the logistics and implementation of crucial Ebola-related health services”

The feasibility of Malaria Elimination in Kazungula District

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

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.

Celebrating Christmas with Mercy Ministries

Celebrating Christmas with Mercy Ministries

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on December 17, 2014 in Capacity Building, News

On Dec 11 Akros staff held a Christmas celebration with nearly 300 orphans and vulnerable children from Mercy Ministries’ Chifundo School. Akros also donated a Canon multifunction printer to assist the school with its daily office operations which in the past was problematic and very expensive as the school had to subcontract nearby printing outlets to access the service.

Akros staff spent the afternoon at the school to play with the children, share gifts, and a special lunch during the Christmas party. The excited pupils entertained the guests with a series of songs, dances and poems. The event was made even more colourful when Santa Claus joined the fun and presented some wrapped gifts to the children that included toothpaste, toothbrushes, a toy puzzle, bathing and washing soap. Akros staff made their musical debut through entertainment for the children with some Christmas carols.

Chief Mukobela tells of how his chiefdom attained ODF status in a single year

Chief Mukobela tells of how his chiefdom attained ODF status in a single year

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on December 16, 2014 in Water and Sanitation Health

Chief Mukobela is one of the first chiefs to attain open defecation free status (ODF) for his chiefdom in Zambia. Having attained ODF status in 2013 after the community led total sanitation programme (CLTS) was introduced in 2012, His Royal Highness has gone beyond and has begun working on a sustainable approach to maintain adequate sanitation in his chiefdom. He has since begun partnering with the Government of Zambia and Akros in ensuring that sanitation marketing and school-led total sanitation is a reality in his chiefdom, an indication of his great commitment towards stopping open defecation.

To many chiefs in Zambia, attaining ODF status in their chiefdom is seen as a challenging process. This has been attributed to the deep-rooted cultural behaviours that prevent them from defecating in a toilet. These behaviours are said to take a process to unlearn.

Some chiefs have even gone to the extent of putting up stringent measures aimed at ending open defecation such as charging a fee to subjects who refuse to comply with building a latrine as well as threatening them with the law.