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.

Akros Staffer, Anne Mutunda, to make presentation at Menstrual Cycle Research Conference in Boston

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on April 9, 2015 in Capacity Building, News, Water and Sanitation Health

[icon size=”16″]icon-camera[/icon] Anne Mutunda (far right) celebrates the 1 million new users of sanitation milestone with her W.A.S.H. colleagues at the Akros offices in November. Mutunda will present on her research at the 21st Biennial Conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research in Boston this June.

World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 each year as a global health awareness day that also marks the anniversary of the World Health Organization, established in 1948. For the past two years, this day has also marked the start of World Health Worker Week, a weeklong celebration of the inspiring health workers who make health care possible. This is also a week to celebrate health workers who provide health care in the hardest to reach places, often compromising their own comfort for the sake of health equity.

Anne Mutunda, an Akros Water & Sanitation Health (WASH) Surveillance Officer, has been invited to make a presentation during the 21st Biennial Conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research to be held at the Centre for Women’s Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University in Boston from June 4 – 6. “I am very happy to be invited to this conference, I feel delighted as this will make me known in the international research community as a subject-matter expert in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene,” said Mutunda.

The life of a Community Champion

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on March 30, 2015 in News, Water and Sanitation Health

Justine Mwape is one of the most hardworking Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) volunteers in the Serenje District of Central Province. He led Kabamba ward to end open defecation in 2014 when he was serving there as a Community Champion. His journey was not so smooth as he had to work as the only Champion in the area for some time after his co-champion left. He had to supervise about 51 sparsely populated villages alone. This did not limit him as he decided to put in some extra hours to ensure adequate sanitation in his area of operation. Mwape became a Champion soon after the CLTS programme was introduced to the area in 2013. He describes community work as an inborn thing, something that comes naturally and enables him to thrive with ease even in challenging situations.

Asked how he was able to lead the ward to stop open defecation, he stated that the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, Chief Kabamba and Akros were very instrumental in helping him facilitate the change. He further stated that his vast prior experience in community work instilled some skills that he used in the CLTS programme such as team building, facilitation and conflict management.

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

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

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.

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

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.