Category Archives: IPTp

Progress on Malaria in Pregnancy in 12 PMI Focus Countries

The challenges of implementing programs to control malaria in pregnancy based on experiences with US President’s Malaria Initiative Countries was presented at the Malaria World Congress in Melbourne this week. The team included Katherine Wolf, MCSP/Jhpiego, Marianne Henry, PMI/USAID, Lia Florey, PMI/USAID, Gabrielle Conecker, MCSP/Jhpiego, Betsy Hendrickson, MCSP/Jhpiego, Katherine Lilly, MCSP/Jhpiego, Nicholas
Furtado, GFATM, Maria Petro, GFATM, Susan Youll, PMI/USAID, and Julie Gutman, PMI/CDC, and their findings are shared below.

What is the danger of malaria in pregnancy (MiP)? Each year MIP is responsible for 20% of stillbirths in Sub-Saharan Africa, 100,000 Newborn deaths globally, 11% of newborn deaths in Africa and 10,000 maternal deaths globally. Four interventions are aimed at MIP, Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy (IPTp), consistent use of insecticide treated nets, effective diagnosis and treatment and low-dose folic acid during antenatal care. IPTp with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine reduces low birth weight by 29%, severe maternal anemia by 38% and neonatal mortality by 31%. What can be done?

  • Scale-up and full coverage of the WHO lifesaving interventions
  • Promote early and regular ANC
  • Preserve SP efficacy by avoiding its use for treating clinical cases of malaria
  • Reserve SP stocks for IPTp at ANC clinics

Methodology for MiP country review: Initial survey took place in 23 PMI countries. PMI resident advisors were surveyed, Qualitative and quantitative responses were collected and Input from NMCP/partners was obtained. Country selection resulted in 12 that were Tiptop-implementing countries, represented Geographic diversity, had varied IPTp coverage, and made clear progress or best practices to share.

Desk review including HMIS and house hold survey data, current studies and recent assessments, Selected interviews with PMI resident advisors, Jhpiego field staff and current/former NMCP staff. Analysis was a Review and clarification of qualitative and qualitative data.

The 12 countries included Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, and Zimbabwe (see map). The figure shows that none of these attained 80% of 2 doses of IPTp. The current recommendations are for monthly dosages from the 13th week of pregnancy. Often less that half of those receiving IPTp2 also got IPTp3.

Several health systems findings helped explain the IPT results. For Policy & Implementation, Countries reporting strong, coordinated leadership delivered
high IPTp coverage. With Community Engagement, countries reported a diversity of approaches to community health promotion and service delivery.

Concerning Service Delivery, Many countries struggle to implement MiP policies consistently and with quality in the private sector. Commodities were a challenge. Some countries continue to struggle with SP stockouts at facility level, whether ongoing or episodic. Monitoring and Evaluation processes need to catch up. Countries’ routine information systems are transitioning from tracking IPTp2 to IPTp3.
The team offered several Recommendations.

  1. Strengthen consistency of IPTp policies across malaria and reproductive health programs
  2. Scale up of evidence-based country appropriate
    community engagement strategies
  3. Alleviation of supply chain bottlenecks at peripheral level
  4. Inclusion and harmonization of key MIP indicators in routine information systems

For more information please visit www.mcsprogram.org, facebook.com/MCSPglobal and twitter.com/MCSPglobal

This presentation was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the terms of the Cooperative AgreementAID-OAA-A-14-00028. The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Intermittent Preventive Treatment of Malaria In Pregnancy in Tanzania

Intermittent Preventive Treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) using sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) has been a long standing intervention to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from the dangerous effects of malaria in stable transmission settings. Placental malaria deprives the fetus of nutrients leading to low birth weight, still birth and miscarriages. The mother herself suffers anemia and potentially, death.

There had always been a challenge to getting pregnant women to obtain at least two doses of IPTp-SP due to a variety of factors ranging from health system lapses to late antenatal care attendance by mothers. This phenomenon of dropping out of multi-contact interventions is not uncommon and seen equally in programs such as childhood immunization. Therefore when the World Health Organization raised the bar and recommended IPTp starting in the 13th week of pregnancy and monthly thereafter, the challenge of providing three or more doses arose.

The Malaria Indicator Surveys (MIS) and the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) are an ideal was to trace the progress of malaria intervention over multiple years. With the release of the preliminary results of 2017 Tanzania MIS it is now possible to track this service from over a decade. The Attached chart, using MIS/DHS reports shows that so far Tanzania has not come near achieving 80% coverage of this indicator. While there had been major increases over recent years, reports of IPTp coverage in 2017 show only 56% of recently pregnant women received at least two doses, and only 26% received three or more.

It should be noted that countries are beginning to stratify their interventions according  to available transmission data. Therefore as noted in the US President’s Malaria Initiative Malaria Operations Plan for 2018, Zanzibar where transmission is low, has stopped IPTp and focuses on prompt and appropriate case management, while the mainland of Tanzania continues with all MIP interventions.  Of interest is the most recent child prevalence map found in the 2017 MIS results that shows other parts of the mainland may also be approaching very low transmission.

Moving forward it will be useful if Tanzania and other endemic countries not only gather epidemiological data to help stratify appropriate interventions (as suggested in the WHO malaria elimination framework), but go further to focus reporting by strata. That said, the health system and community difficulties in achieving high IPTp coverage wherever it is appropriate will remain a challenge if services remain based in static health facilities. Community roles must be explored.

Malawi Makes Progress and Plans to Defeat Malaria: Directions from the 2017 Malaria Indicator Survey

Malawi has conducted four Malaria Indicator Surveys (MIS), with the most recent being in 2017. Such surveys are crucial tools for [planning and evaluating efforts by national control programs and their partners. Dr. Dan Namarika, Secretary for Health, Ministry of Health in the preface to the 2017 Report sums up the context and progress best, and so first, we have reproduced his narrative below.

Then we look at the example of the insecticide treated net (ITN) data as a way to guide future planning. The MIS format itself has seen improvements with much better color graphics in addition to the traditional tables. Some of these are also shared herein.

According to Dr Namarika, “Malaria is a major public health problem in Malawi where an estimated 4 million cases occur each year. Children under age 5 and pregnant women are most likely to have severe illness. The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with partners, has developed the Malawi Health Sector Strategic Plan 2017-2022, which articulates the priorities for health sector development in the next 6 years and prioritizes malaria. In line with that emphasis, the National Malaria Control Program has just finished the development of the National Malaria Strategic Plan 2017–2022 with the goal of scaling up malaria interventions to reduce morbidity and mortality by 50% in 2022.

“We strive for progress in achieving prompt, effective malaria treatment. We hope to improve access to early intervention and treatment by expanding village clinic services, using insecticide-treated nets, spraying inside residences, managing the environment, encouraging changes in social behaviour and communication, and preventing malaria in pregnancy. We have set for ourselves high targets for these interventions, and we are confident that we will achieve our strategic goals of halving the incidence of malaria and deaths, as well as reducing the prevalence of malaria and malaria-related anaemia.

“Surveys such as the current Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS) are essential measures of progress towards these goals. Without measurement, we can only guess about progress. The 2017 Malawi Malaria Indicator Survey (MMIS) is the country’s fourth nationally representative assessment of the coverage attained by key malaria interventions. Interventions are reported in combination with measures of malaria-related burden and anaemia prevalence testing among children under age 5.

“Overall, there has been considerable progress in scaling up interventions and controlling malaria. We noted a decline in malaria prevalence from 33% in 2014 to 24% in 2017. Insecticide-treated net (ITN) ownership has increased from 70% in 2014 to 82% in 2017.

“Results of the 2017 MIS also show improvement on use of intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy (IPTp) by pregnant women age 15-49. Coverage has increased from 64% for two or more doses in 2014 to 77% in 2017. The percentage of women who took three or more doses of SP/Fansidar for prevention of malaria in pregnancy increased from 13% in 2014 to 43% in 2017.

“In addition, numbers of children receiving a parasitological test and artemisinin-based combination therapy continue to increase.

“These results represent the combined work of numerous partners contributing to the overall scale-up of malaria interventions. I would like to request that all partners make use of the information presented in this report as they implement projects to surmount the challenges depicted here.”

According to PMI, “The 2017-2022 National Malaria Strategic Plan (MSP) builds on the successes achieved and lessons learned during implementation of previous strategic plans.” The example of ITN targets is illustrative and is included in the target, “At least 90% pf the population use one or more malaria preventative interventions.”

So in addition to showing progress with ITNs, the MIS 2017 report also points to gaps that require strengthened intervention. While there has been an increase of household net ownership we can see in the graph that the target for universal coverage of 1 net for 2 people still needs work. We can also see in the graphs that equity remains a challenge with a lower proportion of poorer households owning a net. In addition net ownership is lower in the Central Region of the Country.

We learn from the graphs that having access to a net in the household does not guarantee that people will actually use or sleep under them. The tables show us that the traditionally defined ‘vulnerable groups’ like pregnant women (62.5%) and children below the age of 5 years (67.5%) were more likely to sleep under nets than household members in general (55.4%). The push towards universal coverage stresses that all household members contribute to the health, welfare and wealth of the family and should be protected from malaria.

Now we should Return the comments by Dr Namarika on the value of having MIS data. All endemic countries need to ensure their malaria data are up-to-date to ensure they use this information to keep their strategic plans on track to defeat malaria.

Burkina Faso Celebrated World Malaria Day with Pledges to Defeat Malaria

Burkina Faso celebrated World Malaria Day with pledges to Defeat Malaria on 25th April 2018. Dr Ousman Badolo. Technical Director of Jhpiego’s USAID/PMI Supported Improving Malaria Care (IMC) Project describes below the event in the village of Kamboinsin, not far from the capital, Ouagadougou. Ibrahim Sawadogo from IMC provided the photographs.

The day started with a proclamation of malaria day from Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, to his assembled cabinet and the press. The president recognized that malaria is still a major public health issue in the country, and while deaths are decreasing, the incidence of malaria is not. The President called for a greater commitment of resources by all partners to insure that malaria can be defeated in Burkina Faso by 2030.

Kamboinsin village in Sig-Noghin Health District was the site of further observances organized by the National Malaria Control Program, later that afternoon. This district was chosen because of having among the highest incidence rates for malaria in the region. Many partners set up booths to share their work in malaria with partners and citizens of the district. Included were three research centers (Centre Muraz, CNRFP and IRD), and three USAID programs supported by the President’s Malaria Initiative in Burkina Faso (Procurement and Supply Management [PSM], IMC and VectorLink), among others.

During the program both the Minister for Health and the US Ambassador spoke. The Minister highlighted the main strategies that Burkina Faso is employing to reduce and eliminate malaria including regular use of insecticide treated nets (ITN), seasonal malaria chemoprevention, Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy (IPTp), Prompt and Appropriate Case Management and other Vector Control Strategies.

The US Ambassador shared a real-life story of a pregnant woman who during her current pregnancy decided to register early for Antenatal Care (ANC) as encouraged by the IMC project. She was able to get several doses of IPTp as required as well as obtain an ITN on her first visit, unlike in her previous pregnancies.

Entertainment was provided by the comedian Hypolythe Wangrawa (alias M’ba Bouanga) who presented a sketch involving his ‘son’ who was not encouraging his wife to attend ANC and receive malaria prevention services. M’ba Bouanga chastised the son and an actor playing a midwife explained to the family the value of attending ANC and preventing malaria. Singers Maria Bissongo, Miss Oueora and Aicha Junior provided the audience with a song that embodied a variety of malaria prevention and care messages.

A highlight of the occasion was recognition of high performing health districts in the country. They were judged on criteria including good management of malaria commodity stocks, reduced case fatality rates, use of diagnostic tests to confirm malaria before treatment and coverage of at least three doses of IPTp. Four districts were given awards, Titao, Thyou, Boussouma and Batie, while Charles de Gaul Pediatric Hospital was also recognized.

One can watch a video of the proclamation by the President on the National Facebook page. More details of the events are found in the following media: Lefaso.net and Paalga Observer.

World Malaria Day in Burkina Faso demonstrated the political will and commitment to “defeat malaria.” More and more national resources will be needed to reach the endline in 2030.

On World Malaria Day the realities of resurgence should energize the call to ‘Beat Malaria’

Dr Pedro Alonso who directed the World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Program, has had several opportunities in the past two weeks to remind the global community that complacency on malaria control and elimination must not take hold as there are still over 400,000 deaths globally from malaria each year. At the Seventh Multilateral Initiative for Malaria Conference (MIM) in Dakar, Dr Alonso drew attention to the challenges revealed in the most recent World Malaria Report (WMR). While there have been decreases in deaths, there are places where the number of actual cases is increasing.

Around twenty years ago the course of malaria changed with the holding of the first MIM, also in Dakar and the establishment of the Roll Bank Malaria (RBM) Partnership. These were followed in short order by the Abuja Declaration that set targets for 2010 and embodied political in endemic countries, as well as major funding mechanisms such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. This spurred what has been termed a ‘Golden Decade’ of increasing investment and intervention coverage, leading to decreasing malaria morbidity and mortality. The Millennium Development Goals provided additional impetus to reduce the toll of malaria by 2015.

On Facebook Live yesterday Dr Alonso talked about that ‘Golden Decade.’ There was a 60% decrease in mortality and a 40% decreases in malaria cases. But progress slowing down and we may be stalled at a crossroads. He noted that history show unless accelerate efforts, malaria will come back with a vengeance. Not only is renewed political leadership and funding, particularly from affected countries needed, but we also need new tools. Dr Alonso explained that the existing tools allowed 7m deaths be diverted in that golden decade, but these tools are not perfect. We are reaching limits on these tools such that we need R&D for tools to enable quantum leap forward. Even old tools like nets are threatened by insecticide resistance, and research on alternative safe insecticides is crucial.

Dr Alonso at MIM pointed to the worrying fact that investment in malaria overall peaked in 2013. Investment by endemic countries themselves has remained stable throughout and never gone reached $1 billion despite advocacy and leadership groups like the Africa Leaders Malaria Alliance. The 2017 WMR shows that while 16 countries achieved a greater that 20% reduction in malaria cases, 25 saw a greater that 20% increase in cases. The outnumbering of decreasing countries by increasing was 4 to 8 in Africa, the region with the highest burden of the disease. Overall 24 African countries saw increases in cases between 2015 and 2016 versus 5 that saw a decrease. A review of the Demographic and Health and the Malaria Information Surveys in recent years show that most countries continue to have difficulty coming close to the Abuja 2010 targets for Insecticide treated net (ITN) use, prompt and appropriate malaria case management and intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp).

The coverage gap is real. The WMR shows that while there have been small but steady increase in 3 doses of IPTp, coverage of the first dose has leveled off. Also while ownership of a net by households has increased, less than half of households have at least one net for every two residents.

In contrast a new form of IPT – seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) for children in the Sahel countries has taken off with over 90% of children receiving at least one of the monthly doses during the high transmission season. Community case management is taking off as is increased use of rapid diagnostic testing. Increased access to care may explain how in spite of increased cases, deaths can be reduced. This situation could change rapidly if drug resistance spreads.

While some international partners are stepping up, we are far short of the investment needed. The Gates Foundation is pledging more for research and development to address the need for new tools as mentioned by Dr Alonso. A big challenge is adequate funding to sustain the implementation of both existing tools and the new ones when they come online. Even in the context of a malaria elimination framework, WHO stresses the need to maintain appropriate levels of intervention with case management, ITNs and other measures regardless of the stage of elimination at which a country or sub-strata of a country is focused.

Twenty years after the formation of RBM and 70 years after the foundation of WHO, the children, families and communities of endemic countries are certainly ready to beat malaria. The question is whether the national and global partners are equally ready.

Acceptance of the Contribution of Community-Based Health Workers (CBHWs) to Improving Prevention of Malaria in Pregnancy in Burkina Faso by Health Center Staff

Efforts are underway to test the a community-based system for providing IPTp to pregnant women in Burkina Faso as a means of increasing coverage. Justin Tiendrebeogo, Ousmane Badolo, Mathurin Dodo, Yacouba Savadogo, Danielle Burke, Susan Youll, and William Brieger share a formative study among health staff concerning their perceptions of the ability of Community Based Health Workers to provide increased doses. This was presented at the 7th Multilateral Initiative for Malaria Conference in Dakar. Below are the findings.

The Burkina Faso Ministry of Health, with support from its partners, initiated a study on the feasibility of increasing provision of intermittent preventive malaria treatment in pregnant women (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP). Existing community-based health workers (CBHWs) were enlisted to deliver the third and fourth doses recommended by the World Health Organization. Currently, only facility-based health care providers give SP, and women in rural areas have trouble accessing health facilities for the medicine.

Using CBHWs has the potential to reach more women with a greater number of doses of IPTp-SP. Direct training and supervision of CBHWs is the responsibility of frontline health care staff, including antenatal care (ANC) providers. Therefore, to ensure a successful rollout of community delivery of IPTp, it is crucial that these staff accept the new roles of CBHWs. This baseline study was conducted to learn the frontline staff’s views about existing and proposed CBHW activities.

Study’s Geographic Areas. Three districts (Batié, Pô, and Ouargaye) in the southern part of Burkina Faso. Twelve centre de santé et de promotion sociale (health and social promotion centers [CSPS]) were selected in Ouargaye, Pô, and Batié Health Districts. In each district, two CSPS were randomly assigned as intervention catchment areas, for a total of six centers. Then using matching criteria, the remaining six CSPS were designated as control sites.

Health Worker Interviews were conducted among a total of 35 CSPS staff: 23 were men, and 12 were women. Semi-structured interview guides were used in this formative study. Open-ended questions sought the views of ANC providers and CBHW supervisors about the current work of CBHWs and the feasibility of using this health cadre to administer IPTp to pregnant women. The Study sought to understand provider opinions to design an IPTp-SP intervention involving CBHWs.

Qualitative analysis identified common themes in the open-ended responses. Providers like the CBHW program, noting that “CBHWs come from the community” and help with language barriers. However, CBHWs are not always available or move frequently from one community to another. A few male providers noted issues with timely payment of stipends to CBHWs.

Most providers were open to CBHWs providing IPTp-SP to pregnant women: “It will reduce [our] workload.” Unlike female providers, some male providers stressed the need for CBHWs to be “well trained.”

Providers commented that CBHWs were needed and could contribute. For example CBHWs could increase the uptake of IPTp-SP, prevent deaths and malaria, educate women and the community, and prevent stock-outs of SP. While CBHWs do not currently provide IPTp-SP, several providers noted that CBHWs already conduct community education sessions with pregnant women on taking IPTp-SP.

A few noted that CBHWs already monitor adherence to IPTp-SP doses and send women to the health facility when doses are needed. Providers expressed the importance of including information on malaria prevention and treatment, IPTp-SP administration, stock management, and data collection in the CBHW training.

The findings guided discussions and planning with both district and CSPS staff in the design of the CBHW training and IPTp-SP intervention. The results led to development of the training-of-trainers process that started with the district health team, who then trained CSPS staff—the CSPS staff then trained CBHWs.

Gaining the frontline staff’s acceptance of and perceptions about CBHWs—and building on them—will hopefully lead to greater ownership and better management of project implementation at the community level.

This poster was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the terms of the Cooperative Agreement AID-OAA-A-14-00028. The contents are the responsibility of the Maternal and Child Survival Program and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, PMI, or the United States Government.

Community-Based Health Workers in Burkina Faso: Are they ready to take on a larger role to prevent malaria in pregnancy?

Community Based Health Worker (CBHW) opinions were sought prior to establishing community delivery of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pr4egnancy in Burkina Faso. Bill Brieger, Danielle Burke, Justin Tiendrebeogo, Ousmane Badolo, Mathurin Dodo, Yacouba Savadogo, and Susan Youll report on the findings from the CBHWs at the 7th Multilateral Initiative for Malaria Meeting in Dakar.

In 2012 and 2013, World Health Organization recommended that a minimum of three doses—rather than two doses—of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp). This three-dose recommendation has made it more challenging to achieve the 85% national coverage target in Burkina Faso. Existing health services in other endemic countries have also had difficulty achieving the two-dose target. Using a formative approach, this study tested if the 85% target could be achieved by having IPTp delivered to the community through trained community-based health workers (CBHWs) who are supervised by the health system.

Existing training materials for these CBHWs outline a basic role in promoting antenatal care (ANC) and guiding communities to use curative and preventive malaria services. The question was to what extent are the CBHWs practicing what they were taught, and could training in community delivery of IPTp build on their existing roles.

Because of continuous malaria transmission, these three districts in the southern part of Burkina Faso were chosen for the intervention study: Batie, Po, and Ouargaye. Also in these three districts, community health workers have been involved in the implementation of other programs, such as immunization, malaria, nutrition, and family planning.

As part of this formative study to design the community-based IPTp intervention, semi-structured interviews were conducted with CBHWs in three health districts (Batie, Po, and Ouargaye) with a high malaria burden. In general, the Directorate of Health Promotion in the Ministry of Health encourages communities to select one male and one female CBHW, although the actual CBHWs chosen would depend on availability and literacy of the CBHW.

In each district, four centre de santé et de promotion sociale (health and social promotion centers [CSPS] were selected, and their catchment areas were divided among intervention and control groups. Effort was made to reach all CBHWs currently practicing in these 12 catchment areas. Numerical and narrative data were entered in a database and analyzed by gender based on major themes relating to ANC, pregnancy, and malaria services. Interview transcripts were manually reviewed for themes.

Of the CBHWs interviewed, a total of 62 were male and 42 were female.  Both female and male CBHWs provide advice and education to women in their villages, which may include advising women to go to the CSPS for pregnancy or ANC, family planning, immunization, or illness. Some CBHWs stated that they remind women about follow-up ANC appointments. As one female CBHW explained, “on their return [from CSPS for care], I ask [the pregnant woman] what has been said and I shall ensure they practice this.”

A male CBHW noted that he “direct[s] women, in case of amenorrhea, [to] go to CSPS to check for pregnancy, to [receive] follow[-up] care, and be in good health.” Many male CBHWs were likely to mention malaria-related activities, including education about causes and prevention of malaria. A few male CBHWs talked about helping people recognize malaria, seek treatment, and comply with recommended medicine regimens.

A few male and female CBHWs specifically mentioned encouraging women to take sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for IPTp. Some reported involvement in distributing bed nets. In contrast to the male CBHWs, some female CBHWs may even accompany women to ANC to ensure that the women receive services.

Some challenges were faced by CBHWs. At least a third of the CBHWs noted difficulties in carrying out their work, but they also had encouragements: “Acceptance by the community of my activities facilitates the task.” “Nothing is easy, but with the understanding of people, there are no problems.” While officially, CBHWs were to receive a stipend, one CBHW explained that “nothing is easy, especially that I am not paid for all these activities.” Others also noted that “for the moment, there is nothing that is easy as we lack the tools [for the job].”

CBHWs report being active in promoting the health of pregnant women and encouraging women and the community to prevent and treat malaria. Although their training stresses postnatal care, this area was not mentioned during interviews. Likewise, CBHWs did not address the danger signs of malaria in pregnancy during the interviews, which is in their training. Female CBHWs were more likely to encourage pregnant women to attend ANC at CSPS and follow up with them after the visit, while the male CBHWs were more focused on providing health information. Logistical challenges and payment of stipends need to be addressed before adding more duties for the CBHW to complete. Overall, CBHWs are positioned to deliver IPTp under the supervision of CSPS staff.

This poster was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the terms of the Cooperative Agreement AID-OAA-A-14-00028. The contents are the responsibility of the Maternal and Child Survival Program and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, PMI, or the United States Government.

Improved IPTp Uptake: MCSP Restoration of Health Services Experience in Liberia

Nyapu D.Taylor, Birhanu Getahun,Topian Zikeh, Anne Fiedler, and Allyson Nelson of the USAID supported Maternal and Child Survival Program/Jhpiego in Liberia are presenting their project aimed at strengthening health services in Liberia to improve uptake of Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy at the 7th Multilateral Initiative for Malaria in Dakar this week. Below are a description of their work and their main findings.

Mother and baby in Liberian Government Hospital, Grand Bassa County, Liberia. Photo by Kate Holt, Jhpiego.

In Liberia more than 170,000 pregnancies occur each year. Provision of two or more doses of SP for IPTp (IPTp2+) merely increased from 50% 2016. Provision of the three or more doses of

IPTp (IPTp3+) remains at 22%.Liberia adopted WHO’s IPTp3+ guideline but it is not practiced all over the country. There is a gap in the competency of the health care workforce. There are recurring stock-outs of SP.The Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) Restoration of Health Services (RHS) intended to address these challenges. Project

Objectives included Prevention at facilities by strengthening infection prevention and control (IPC) practices at 77 health facilities through training, intensive supportive supervision, triage, improvement of waste management, and provision of essential IPC commodities and supplies.  Also the project aimed to Increase utilization of and demand for maternal and child health services bu restoring delivery of quality primary health care services through implementation of integrated reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health as part of the Essential Package of Health Services in 77 facilities.

MCSP RHS supported health facilities in three counties:

  • Grand Bassa: 30 (91% of health facilities in county)
  • Lofa: 17 (27% of health facilities in county)
  • Nimba: 30 (46% of health facilities in county)

Population coverage was 900,000 or 20% of population. This included 45,000 pregnancies per year. The Project timeline is September 2015–June 2018. The quality improvement process used in the project is seen in the attached diagram.

Several achievements were documented. Adherence to malaria clinical standards improved from 25% at baseline to 100% at endline in 39 MCSP-supported facilities—sampled at endline (see Figure 1). Adherence to malaria clinical standards improved substantially from baseline to endline in 39 MCSP-supported facilities—sampled at endline (see Figure 2). Increasing uptake of IPT2+ in the 77 RHS facilities has been observed since the inception of the project (see Figure 3).

The project met and dealt with several challenges. Health facilities were sporadically stocked with SP and mosquito nets (another component of malaria in pregnancy services). Bad roads prevented travel to field during rainy seasons. This affected distribution of malaria supplies and provision of mentorship and supervision for quality service. Clients had huge difficulty accessing health facilities.

Among the lessons learned were that close collaboration and involvement of key actors, especially MOH (National Malaria Control Program) and country health team at all levels, is an effective and efficient approach for project implementation. Regular mentorship and coaching during supportive supervision improves the quality of care provided for malaria in pregnancy. Ensuring availability of IPTp drugs and long-lasting insecticidal nets at health facilities are key to preventing malaria in pregnancy.

In conclusion the project met IPC objectives and achieved 80% Safe, Quality, Health Services score. Thus there was improved service delivery utilization.

The poster was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the terms of the Cooperative Agreement AID-OAA-A-14-00028. The contents are the responsibility of the Maternal and Child Survival Program and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Community Health Volunteers Contribute to Improved Malaria Prevention and Management in Kribi, Cameroon

Kodjo Morgah, Eric Tchinda, and Naibei Mbaïbardoum of Jhpiego (a Johns Hopkins University Affiliate) in Cameroon are presenting a poster at the Multilateral Initiative for Malaria Conference in Dakar this week. Their findings, seen below, show how community health volunteers can contribute to improving the quality of malaria control services in Chad and Cameroon.

CHV Lilian Kubeh preparing to administer a rapid diagnostic test. Photo by Karen Kasmauski.

Project objectives focused overall on contributing to the reduction of malaria-related morbidity and mortality in Cameroon and Chad. It also aimed to strengthen community-based interventions through the use of community health volunteers (CHVs) to manage simple cases of malaria and conduct awareness-raising activities. The geographic scope of the project was Kribi District in the south of Cameroon. Thirty-two health facilities are supported by Jhpiego. Kribi District has an estimated population of 134,876.

Reports from the National Malaria Control Program show that malaria is the leading cause of morbidity in Cameroon—an estimated 1,500,000 cases occur each year. In 2016, it was the leading reason for medical consultations (23.6% of all medical consultations) and hospitalizations (46% of all hospitalizations). Among children under 5 years of age, malaria accounted for 41% of all medical consultations and 55% of all hospitalizations. Malaria is also a leading cause of mortality. In 2016, Cameroon had 2,639 deaths caused by malaria—12% of all deaths across all age groups and 28% of all deaths among children under 5 years of age were attributed to malaria.

Project intervention strategies target the four levels of the health system. The CHV intervention was mobilized to support the strategy at the community level as seen in the attached diagram. In 2012 and 2014, 38 CHVs were selected by the community and received training to support areas in the district more than 10 km from a health center. (Note: 10 km was the measurement tool used to determine the geographic scope of each CHV for this project.) An initial donation of medications, data collection tools, and small equipment was made available to CHVs using funding from ExxonMobil Foundation.  An evaluation of the training intervention was conducted by an external consultant in April 2016.

CHV Daniel Ze conducting an individual educational session on IPTp. Photo by Karen Kasmauski.

CHVs conduct outreach activities in their communities—via home visits and community education sessions—to provide health education on malaria transmission and prevention, use of long-lasting insecticidal nets, the importance of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), and the importance of promptly seeking medical care for suspected cases of malaria. CHVs also support national health campaigns and health promotion events, including World Malaria Day. In Cameroon, where CHVs are also able to test and treat patients, they administer rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and treat cases of uncomplicated malaria.

Motivation of CHVs included ongoing training and technical updates, regular replenishment of materials, CHVs are recognized and respected community leaders, provision of per diem and transport costs, and continued advocacy targeting district officials to provide CHV stipends to ensure sustainability. Attached are details of the supervisory activities that provided continual technical support to the CHVs to ensure that they retain knowledge and skills to carry out their activities and track their data.

Between 2013 and 2016 CHVs in these communities were able to reach nearly 20,000 people with a variety of malaria services as seen in the attached table. The project paid close attention to data quality, which was reviewed with the CHVs on a regular basis, resulting in improved data quality.  CHVs improved the accessibility of malaria prevention and care services for communities living in remote areas. Results from April 2016 external evaluation show these results. Knowledge of malaria prevention is significantly higher in households that did not receive CHV support (p = 0.001). Use of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets is higher in households that benefitted from CHV support (88%) than in households that did not benefit from CHV support (73%) (p = 0.023). There was an increase in the delivery of IPTp2, from 60% in 2012 to 70% in 2016.

In conclusion CHVs have increased their communities’ access to health centers through referrals, health education on malaria prevention, IPTp, and treatment for simple and severe cases of malaria. Regular supervision of CHVs by their supervisors (the health zone managers) is essential to maintaining and strengthening CHV performance and motivation. Continuing advocacy efforts with local authorities is necessary to ensure that CHV activities are sustainable. The project team aims to establish a mechanism to improve documentation of its activities to better measure the impact on indicators at the community, facility, and district levels, and provide evidence for advocacy to sustain these efforts.

Universal Health Coverage – Where is Malaria?

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is the theme of the 2018 World Health Day on April 7th. The concept was applied to malaria in 2009 regarding the provision of long lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs aka ITNs) with the definition of universal meaning one net for every two persons in a household. Up until that time coverage targets for malaria interventions set at the 2000 Abuja Declaration had focused on achieving by the year 2010, 80% of people (particularly pregnant women and children below the age of 5 years) sleeping under ITNs, 80% of children receiving appropriate malaria treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACTs) within 24 hours of onset of illness and 80% of pregnant women receiving two doses of Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPTp) for malaria as part of antenatal care (ANC).

Definitions have evolved since the Abuja Declaration. The target for ITNs was extended to all household members (thus universal). The ACT target was modified to require treatment based on parasitological testing (microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests). IPTp targets were extended to achieving monthly dosing from the 13th week of pregnancy, which depending on the point in pregnancy when a women entered the ANC system could be 3, 4 or more doses. In addition to these changes, the US President’s malaria Initiative upped the Abuja targets from 80% to 85% in the countries where it supported national malaria programs.

We are eight years past 2010. It had been assumed that if scale up to 80% had been achieved by then and sustained for five or more years, malaria deaths would come close to zero and elimination of the disease would be in sight. National surveys have shown that reaching these targets has not been simple.

The example of ITNs is a good place to start, as is Nigeria with the highest burden of malaria. The attached chart shows findings from the Demographic and Health or Malaria Information Surveys in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Whether one measures universal coverage by the house possessing at least one net per two residents or by the proportion who actually use/sleep under the nets, we can see that UHC for this intervention is difficult to achieve. Even when households possess nets, not everyone sleeps under them either because of adequacy of nets, preferred sleeping arrangements, internal household power structure or other factors.

In 2015 the majority of nets that existed in households were obtained through campaigns (77%), 14% were acquired from the health services, and 7% were purchased. These systems are not keeping up with the need.

Four endemic countries reported a malaria Information Survey in 2016, Liberia, Ghana, Madagascar, and Sierra Leone. The chart shows that they too have had difficulty in achieving universal coverage of malaria interventions. Of note the chart only includes whether appropriate malaria parasitological diagnosis was done on children who had fever in the preceding two weeks. Data on provision of ACTs is based on fever, not test results, so there is no way to know whether it was appropriate. Generally 20-30% more febrile children received ACTs than were tested.

All three malaria interventions, ACTs, Diagnostics and ITNs, require contact with the health system (including community health workers). If malaria services are indicative of other health interventions, then universal coverage including seeking interventions, getting them and ultimately using them is still a distant goal. To achieve universal coverage there also needs to be universal commitment by countries, donors and technical partners.