The August issue of Tropical Medicine and International Health demonstrates the fact that malaria control interventions do not implement themselves. Providing commodities is only part of the picture. Ouma et al. representing a team from KEMRI, JHPIEGO, CDC and the University of Amsterdam have shown that coverage of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy is enhanced when health workers received training on focused antenatal care (FANC) and the national malaria guidelines.
“The 3-day training used a competency-based learning approach, emphasizing theory with one full day spent in a clinical setting for practical experience. The training materials included a training/orientation package of two-page laminated service provider job aids on malaria in pregnancy and FANC/MIP and community brochures.”
Ironically in Kenya there had been an IPTp policy since 1998, but without adequate staff capacity building the policy was not achieving results. The situation is similar in other countries.
An assessment for malaria in pregnancy in Akwa Ibom State in southeast Nigeria documented that two years after the national Malaria in Pregnancy Guidelines had been published (2005), front line antenatal clinic staff were not familiar with the term IPT. JHPIEGO has worked with the Federal Ministry of Health to develop the guidelines and an orientation package on FANC and MIP and is now planning to roll out MIP training for the health workers in Akwa Ibom State with support from the ExxonMobil Foundation. Hopefully this will produce similar results as the efforts in Kenya.
In conclusion, national malaria control programs and projects cannot succeed on commodities alone. Health workers need basic orientation and skills to roll back malaria