Category Archives: Mortality

Malaria News Today 2020-10-02/03

Recent news and abstracts include mosquito control using solar disruption of of larval habitats and plants that repel the insects around homes. The challenges of malaria related anemia in pregnancy is discussed. Malaria cases increase in Mali and Mozambique, but in the latter, deaths actually decrease. Malaria parasites have ways of making people more attractive to mosquito bites. Finally covid-19 has not disrupted malaria work as much as anticipated. Read more at the links in the sections below.

Improved Mosquito Control with Solar Power Machine that Causes Ripple Effect

Kristina Panos writes that mosquito haters of the world, rejoice! A few years ago we told you about the first version of this solar-powered mosquito repellent that works by disturbing the surface of standing water. Since then, the project has received worldwide attention, and [Pranav] is back with Solar Scare Mosquito version 2.0 in time for the the 2020 Hackaday Prize.

The idea’s still the same as before: let mosquitoes lay their eggs in the standing waters of tanks and swamps, then disturb the water with vibrations so the larvae on the surface can’t breathe. As smart as this simple idea is, version 2.0 is even smarter. It has a microphone that listens to the wing-beat frequencies of mosquitoes that like to hang around places like that. Inside there’s an Arduino MKR GSM to run the ripple-generating air pump, detect water from the sensor, and gather data from the microphone.

With a network of these devices all reporting data, [Pranav] envisions an early warning system for mosquito-borne epidemics that works by alerting the locals through their phones. Solar Scare Mosquito has come a long way since 2014.

Malaria cases spike in northern Mali

Malaria cases in northern Mali have spiked, according to medical workers, claiming 23 lives in the often lawless desert region last week alone. Mali’s ministry of health said this week that 59 people have died of malaria in the north since the start of the year, almost double the number of deaths over the same period last year.

Already struggling to curb coronavirus, the poor Sahel country is also fighting a brutal jihadist insurgency active in the north and centre of the country.

A powerful attractant: Malaria parasites lure blood-sucking mosquitoes

The malaria parasite’s gametocyte-stage has been demonstrated in the field to heavily manipulate the blood-seeking behaviour of vector mosquitoes through increasing the appeal of biting an infected host.

Plasmodium parasites, the causative agents of Malaria in humans and animals, are well known for manipulating both their human and mosquito hosts as a way of maximising the probability of interactions between them, thereby increasing the chance malaria parasites are transmitted from host to host. One way in which these devious parasites have been shown to increase the probability of host interaction is during their transmissible (gametocyte) stage.

This is achieved by inducing host red blood cells to produce volatile compounds that attract malarial vector species, such as mosquitos in the Anopheles family. The increase in production of volatile compounds, such as certain aldehydes and terpenes, by host red blood cells was shown back in 2017 to be specifically induced by a gametocyte-produced molecule called (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl pyrophosphate, also known as HMBPP.

Malaria campaigns fight off Covid disruptions to deliver programmes

Almost all planned work against the disease has gone ahead this year, delivering nets, drugs and the world’s first malaria vaccine. More than 90% of anti-malaria campaigns planned this year across four continents are on track, despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.

The delivery of insecticide-treated nets and provision of antimalarial medicines in the majority of malaria-affected countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas were still going ahead, a high-level meeting organised by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria heard on Thursday.

Malaria associated with increased prevalence of anemia during pregnancy

Ken Downey Jr. and colleagues conducted a study in seven sub-Saharan African countries demonstrated an association between malaria and an increased prevalence of anemia among pregnant women, according to findings published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

“Pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa suffer a double burden of malaria and HIV infections, and these infections interact with each other to cause anemia,” Ssentongo told Healio. “If not treated, the risk of the mother and the unborn baby dying is high. Multipronged strategies to prevent and treat malaria in HIV pregnant women are critical to ensure the survival of the mothers and their unborn babies.”Paddy Ssentongo, MD, MPH, a research assistant professor at Penn State University,

Mozambique: Malaria Cases Increase, Malaria Death Toll Declines

From January to August, 442 people in Mozambique are known to have died from malaria, according to Health Minister Armindo Tiago. Speaking at the launch of a National Home Spraying Campaign, Tiago said the malaria death toll, in the first eight months of the year, was significantly lower than that recorded in the same period in 2019, when 562 people died of the disease.

But although fewer people are dying of malaria, the number of malaria cases has actually increased – from 7.86 million cases in January-August 2019 to 8.36 million in the same months this year. The number of cases rose by 6.4 per cent, but the number of deaths fell by 21.4 per cent. Thus there is the drive to persuade families to change their behaviour.

The Plants That Keep Mosquitoes Away

Protect outdoor areas from mosquitoes and bugs to enjoy evenings outside. Including the following plants in a home garden can provide homeowners with some important weapons in the war against mosquitoes.

1. Citronella Plants: You may already be familiar with citronella plants, as they are known for emitting a strong smell that mosquitoes find objectionable. This group of plants contain citronellal, the active ingredient commonly found in mosquito repellents like citronella patio candles or sprays.

2. The Mint Family: Some members of the mint family have the power to repel mosquitoes, or at least take the sting out of their bites. Check Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Basil, Lavender, Sage, and Catnip.

3. Flowers: Believe it or not, ornamental plants can actually do double duty and function as mosquito repellents. Even better, these plants love sun and are drought resistant. Marigolds, and their relative, tarragoncontain pyrethrum, an ingredient found in many insect repellents. Verbena is a lemon-scented, easy-to-grow perennial. Citrosum is also named “the mosquito plant,” and is one of the best plants in the game for repelling mosquitoes.

Malaria News Today 2020-09-02

Updates from newsletters and journal abstracts found online today. Issues include health and malaria service disruptions from COVID-19, increased mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria, in India and mosquitoes and attractant odors. Click on links to read details.

Continuing vital health services in Guinea-Bissau during COVID-19

ReliefWeb explains that as lockdowns, curfews and transport disruptions prevent many vulnerable people from getting healthcare, communities are stepping into the breach. Community health workers and volunteers are ensuring their peers, friends, and neighbours are protected from disease. “In previous bednet distribution campaigns, we used to identify the families before setting up the distribution points,” said Ivannildo Vieira, a community health worker, “but this year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, it was decided to do door-to-door distributions in order not to gather people in a single distribution area.”

Helping communities protect themselves from diseases like malaria in Guinea-Bissau is no simple task. Located on West Africa’s coast, Guinea-Bissau is one of the world’s poorest and most fragile countries. Malaria is the leading cause of death among pregnant women and children under five. Malaria prevention measures have been complicated by a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Delhi records 24% rise in Dengue, Malaria in 7 days

While Delhi’s healthcare is overwhelmed with tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, another epidemic of vector-borne diseases are knocking at its door. A whopping rise of 24 per cent in Dengue, Malaria, and Chikungunya cases were recorded in the last one week.  The cities/corporations stated that they reported incidents of mosquito-breeding at 44,259 households and served 35,103 legal notices to the violators. Meanwhile, 1,512 prosecutions were launched against the violations.

Is Anopheles gambiae attraction to floral and human skin-based odours and their combination modulated by previous blood meal experience?

Malaria Journal notes that Mosquitoes use odours to find energy resources, blood hosts and oviposition sites. While these odour sources are normally spatio-temporally segregated in a mosquito’s life history, here this study explored to what extent a combination of flower- and human-mimicking synthetic volatiles would attract the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto (s.s.).

Nulliparous and parous A. gambiae s.s. are attracted to combinations of odours derived from spatio-temporally segregated resources in mosquito life-history (floral and human volatiles). This is favourable as mosquito populations are comprised of individuals whose nutritional and developmental state steer them to diverging odours sources, baits that attract irrespective of mosquito status could enhance overall effectiveness and use in monitoring and control. However, combinations of floral and skin odours did not augment attraction in semi-field settings, in spite of the fact that these blends activate distinct sets of sensory neurons. Instead, mosquito preference appeared to be modulated by blood meal experience from floral to a more generic attraction to odour blends. Results are discussed both from an odour coding, as well as from an application perspective.

Malaria Leaves 100 Dead in South Sudan

The East African reports that South Sudan’s Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) say at least 100 people died of malaria in the  In a joint report released on Sunday, the two institutions said morbidity and mortality trends in the Protection of Civilians Sites across the country, as of July, indicated rampant deaths due to malaria infections.

African Children and COVID-19

Until recently it was thought that the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, was less severe in children. Now as more cases can be studied, that prognosis is less likely to be true. The number of cases overall in Africa is still lower than the rest of the world, with 36,857 cases reported by the Africa CDC as of 29 April 2020, compared to over 3 million globally. One assumes out of this that the number of child cases would also be lower, but there is worry about other indirect effects of the pandemic on children.

Initial beliefs that the young would be less impacted by COVID-19 may have led to complacency. For example, the Atlantic reports that, “Africa will enjoy the advantage of youth. COVID-19 kills mostly the old, and Africans are relatively young, with a median age of 18.9. (The median age in the United States and China is 38.) That means, in effect, that about half of Africans who get COVID-19 will have a low risk of death.” The reality is turning out much different.

First from the medical standpoint, VOA reports that, “Doctors in Britain, Italy, Portugal and Spain are exploring a possible link between a severe inflammatory disease in children and the coronavirus. A growing number of children of various ages in several European countries have been admitted to hospitals with high fever and heart issues. Some also have suffered from gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea.” There is not enough information disaggregated by age to tell us how coronavirus is affecting children in Africa.

Secondly, UNICEF tells us that, “in any crisis, the young and the most vulnerable suffer disproportionately,” as children suffer from “collateral damage.” Lockdowns reduce access to essential services such as routine immunization, nutritional supplementation and malaria treatment and prevention programs and thus increase morbidity and mortality among children.

Nature published on 7th April that measles has currently, “killed more than 6,500 children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and is still spreading through the country.” Unfortunately “23 countries have suspended measles vaccination campaigns as they cope with SARS-CoV-2.”

There are groups of children that are especially vulnerable. In Kenya. “Street children are having a rough time during the curfew. Food and water are a real problem as hotels and eating places where they would normally get food have closed down. Movement is restricted,” according to the Guardian. The article goes further to share the concern that, “the virus could drive homeless children back to families where they are at risk of abuse.” Abuse of children during stressful times goes affects many confined to homes with out-of-work parents, not just street children.

We cannot afford to lose more children to direct and collateral mortality from the COVID-19 pandemic as it spreads in Africa. We need to begin with better data to tell us about infection and effects on children. Nigeria has done some reporting on age.  We need to ensure that all countries collect data on children and COVID-19 and also maintain routine child survival services.

Prioritizing Facilities for Malaria Case Management Training In the Era of Limited Resources

Presenting at the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene are James Sarkodie, Amos Asiedu1 Eric LaFary, Richard Dogoli, Raphael Ntumy, Lolade Oseni, and Gladys Tetteh who are sharing experiences on “Prioritizing Facilities for Malaria Case Management Training In the Era of Limited Resources”. The authors are affiliated with the PMI Impact Malaria (IM) Project and Jhpiego Baltimore. Below are their findings.

Ghana has made significant recent improvements in malaria control, reducing malaria deaths by 70% (1565 in 2015 to 468 in 2018) with a corresponding decline in under-5 malaria case fatality rate (CFR) from 0.51% to 0.19%. However, significant geographical variations in malaria morbidity and mortality persist and to achieve greater impact, a one-size fits all training approach may no longer be the most effective option.

The training aimed to prioritize facilities for refresher malaria case management training by the US President’s Malaria Initiative-funded Impact Malaria Project in collaboration with Ghana Health Service through systematic evidence-based criteria informed by quantitative and qualitative data. The team gathered information using routine health management information system (HMIS) data from October 2017 to September 2018 including total malaria admissions, malaria deaths malaria case fatality rates were determined for all districts in respective regions.

Districts with high burden malaria mortality and morbidity were ranked using a Pareto chart. Districts with CFRs above the regional average were also identified.

Assessed qualitative data including facility referral patterns, access, and ownership (government, faith-based, private) to explain the observed findings.  Information used by Regional health management teams to prioritize districts and facilities for additional malaria case management training focusing on assessment, treatment and management of complications, effective monitoring and using quality improvement methods to identify change ideas to test to improve malaria case management. Figure 1 shows the Scheme of approach to prioritizing facilities for Intervention.

Analysis of Routine HMIS data for FY-2018 reveals 37 Districts accounted for 33.9% of all districts in the 5 IM Target Regions & 14.2% all Districts in Ghana. There were 183 Malaria Deaths. Fiudings also observed that 90.1% all Malaria deaths in 5 IM Target Regions, and 39.1% of all Malaria deaths in Ghana

A number of districts had child case fatality rates above the regional average. The Districts with under-5 malaria CFR above the regional average were Ashanti Region (AR) – 31%, , Brong Ahafo Region (BAR) – 28%, Eastern Region (ER) – 31% , Upper East Region(UER) – 15% and Upper West Region (UWR) – 27%. Figure 2 shows the Proportion of Malaria Admissions And Mortality Attributable to TOP 10 Facilities In Target Regions – FY-19

The result of selecting districts and facilities using Pareto Charts is seen in Figures 3 and 4. Figure 3 sows the  Distribution of Malaria Deaths in Districts in Ashanti Region, Ghana, FY-2018, and Figure 4 presents the Distribution of Malaria Deaths in Districts in Brong-Ahafo Region, Ghana, FY-2018.

In conclusion, using routine DHMIS2 data backed by qualitative information including access to health facilities, referral patterns and facility ownership, a rational replicable basis for the prioritization of districts and facilities for intervention can be created and facilities prioritized for training based on evidence.

Regional Health Management teams have adopted a rational approach for prioritizing health facilities for intervention with limited resources with the objective of achieving the best outcome.

Malaria Death Audits: A tool to help improve severe malaria case management and prevent malaria related deaths in Mashona East, Zimbabwe

Anthony Chisada, Paul Matsvimbo, Munekayi Padingani, Tsitsi Siwela of Jhpiego,the USAID ZAPIM Project, Harare, Zimbabwe,  and the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Harare, Zimbabwe presented their experiences using death audits at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Their findings follow.

Nearly 50% of the Zimbabwean population is at risk for malaria. Total numbers of malaria related deaths have remained almost constant over the past 5 years. The National Malaria Control Program’s National Malaria Strategic Plan aims to reduce malaria-related deaths by 90% from 2015 levels (462 deaths) by 2020.

To improve severe malaria care and reduce mortality, NMCP documents and investigates all malaria deaths to ascertain the cause of the death and understand if and how it was avoidable. Malaria death audit meetings are held quarterly with health facility staff using a standard death investigation form and case management notes and form a learning platform to look at qualitative and quantitative data related to the deaths.

The audits also examine the quality of care offered as per treatment guidelines and seek to identify ways to prevent future malaria deaths based on omissions and errors in presented cases.

This review examines the findings from death audit meetings facilitated by the PMI-funded Zimbabwe Assistance Program in Malaria project in the Zimbabwean provinces of Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Matabeleland North. Six death audit meetings were conducted over an 18-month period, resulting in a total of 80 deaths audited. The audited deaths were purposely sampled for the potential learning value they offered and to diversify lessons learned.

According to audit reports, the main contributing factors to malaria deaths included: delayed presentation by patients, lack of comprehensive assessment and documentation of cases, inadequate care for patients with reduced level of consciousness and shock, inadequate follow-up of patient progress, lack of supportive investigations, and lack of access to renal replacement therapy/dialysis and blood transfusion.

Most deaths in age groups: under 5s(30%) and over 15(44%). Children are at risk of dying from malaria because of underdeveloped immunity, women taking children to gardens at night, delayed presentation  since mothers are busy. Problem most pronounced in UMP. People over 15 years also at risk of dying: Suggestive of exposure as they indulge in outdoor activities without any protection from mosquito bites.

Death audits reapportion delays (3rd delay increased from 8% to 28%). First delay remains the major contributory factor- need for strengthening SBCC efforts. Malaria death audit meetings enhances the usefulness of the malaria death surveillance system and provides an opportunity for identification and discussion of health system challenges. Some challenges identified are rectifiable thus mitigating deaths. These enable holistic patient care: Identification and management of co-morbidities is critical. Findings contributed to justification of introduction malaria clinical mentorship for improving QoC.

The introduction of malaria death audit meetings has added an active, learning platform to complement the use of the malaria death investigation form and also served as a useful learning tool within Zimbabwe’s clinical mentorship program. Regular malaria death audit meetings are potentially useful in improving malaria care and reducing malaria related deaths.

Improving Malaria Care Project Contribution in Transforming Malaria Control for Vulnerable Populations in Burkina Faso

Mathurin Dodo, Ousmane Badolo, Stanislas Nebie, Youssouf Sawadogo, Thierry Ouedraogo, Moumouni Bonkoungou, Youssouf Zongo, Maria Gouem, Danielle Burke, Gladys Tetteh, Lolade Oseni, Linda Fogarty, and William Brieger of Jhpiego and the USAID Improving malaria Care Project in Burkina Faso shared the status of malaria control efforts at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The focus on vulnerable populations is shared below.

Burkina Faso in 2010-2012 experienced poor capacity in malaria prevention and control, Malaria fatality rate was high:

  • Pregnant women: 0.71% in 2010 and 0.66% in 2012
  • Children under 5: 2.8% in 2010 and 2.7% in 2012

Improving Malaria Care (IMC) Project funded by USAID/President’s Malaria Initiative, began in 2013. IMC supports National Malaria Control Program to improve prevention and case

Management. IMC’s Strategies include the following:

  • Update national malaria prevention and case management guidelines
  • Strengthen health care provider capacity
  • Align malaria training package with revised guidelines
  • Strengthen national malaria health management information system (HMIS)

IMC together with the National Malaria Control Program has been strengthening Health Care Provider Capacity. 54 health districts have been covered by IMC direct support where 1819 providers were trained. Training reached 185 trainers/supervisors on revised training Modules who then trained 1,819 health care providers from 1,349 health facilities in 54 districts on new guidelines

After training 58 supervisors rolled out quality improvement (QI) systems. They oriented 897 providers from referral hospitals on new severe case management guidelines. Formative Supervision, Performance and Quality Improvement efforts were based on an improved malaria supervision guide and tools. Post-training supervision reached each provider. Specifically, malaria supervisions occurred twice a year.

The quality improvement approach, SBM-R® (Standards-Based Management and Recognition) approach, was implemented in 6 regions, 28 districts. Organized data review and validation workshop in 67 districts were another aspect of quality improvement. To sustain quality improvement, IMC conducted 2-day quality assessments and guided developed DQI implementation plans.

Social Behavior Change Communication was a central component of IMC. IMC conducted 13 regional advocacy workshops on malaria issues. The project developed and broadcast 2 malaria spots through 27 media, revised 5 diagnostic and case management job aids, distributed 7,440 job aids to health facilities, and reached 792,660 people through community activities and sensitization sessions

IMC Strengthened National Malaria HMIS. This included training 1,300 (72%) health workers to enter data into monthly reporting forms. Also trained were 326 data managers on HMIS and data use for decisionmakers. The malaria data collection system was integrated into national HMIS using DHIS2. To facilitate this the national HMIS manual was revised and distributed.  Data Quality was improved through malaria data review and validation at district levelUltimately these interventions resulted in Improved Malaria Services. More confirmed simple malaria cases received artemisinin-based combination therapy (65% in 2013 to 90% in 2017). More women received three doses of IPTp3 (14% in 2014 to 51% in June 2018). More suspected cases tested for malaria (65% in 2013 to 96% 2017). More women received insecticide-treated nets at antenatal care. There was Better accuracy in reporting of malaria key indicators.

Improved services led to decreased national malaria fatality rate. In the General population there was a decrease in malaria deaths of 34% and a decrease in overall fatality rate by 47%. Among pregnant women there was a decrease in malaria deaths by 91% and a decrease in malaria fatality rate by 93%. For Children under 5 years of age, there was a decrease in malaria deaths by 34% and a decrease in fatality rate 48%

In conclusion the IMC Project Contributed to Lives Saved in Burkina Faso. IMC supported health delivery sites in Burkina Faso (Jan 2014 -Sep 2017). As a result the health system was able to Distribute 33,566,671 courses of artemisinin-based combination therapy. IMC provided 2,175,648 pregnant women with intermittent preventive treatment 2nd dose and distributed 1,146,185 nets to pregnant women during antenatal care visit. These interventions averted estimated 150,390 malaria deaths and 12,866,271 DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life Years calculated using PSI Impact calculator. 1 DALY=1 lost year of “healthy” life.)

This poster was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under Cooperative Agreement No. AID-624-A-13-00010 and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, PMI or the United States Government.

African Leaders Malaria Alliance Recognizes Country Achievements, Adds NTDs to its Scorecard

The 30th African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia provided an important opportunity to bring the challenges of infectious diseases on the continent to the forefront. Led by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), two major activities occurred, raising greater awareness and commitment to fighting neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and recognizing the contributions countries have made in the fight against malaria.

For many years ALMA has maintained Scorecard for Accountability and Action by monitoring country progress on key malaria interventions. It later added key maternal and child health indicators.  At the AU Summit ALMA announced that NTD indicators would be added to the scorecards which are reported by country and in summary.

The scorecard will now “report progress for the 47 NTD-affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa in their strategies to treat and prevent the five most common NTDs: lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma. By adding NTDs to the scorecard, African leaders are making a public commitment to hold themselves accountable for progress on these diseases.”

In the press release Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary ofALMA, explained that, “Malaria and NTDs both lay their heaviest burden on the poor, rural and marginalised. They also share solutions, from vector control to community-based treatment. Adding NTDs to our scorecard will help give leaders the information they need to end the cycle of poverty and reach everyone, everywhere with needed health care.” This will be an opportunity to demonstrate, for example, that, “In 2016, 40 million more people were reached with preventive treatment for at least one NTD than the year before.”

The combination is based on the logic that NTDs and malaria are both diseases of poverty. Malaria and several NTDs are also vector-borne. Also community platforms are a foundation for delivering needed drugs and supplies to tackle these diseases. Ultimately the decision shows that Heads of State are holding themselves accountable for progress in eliminating these diseases.

At a malaria-focused side meeting of the AU Summit Dr. Kebede Worku (Ethiopia’s State Minister of Health) shared that his government has been mobilizing large amount of resources to the fight against malaria which has led to the shrinking of morbidity and mortality since 2005. He also stressed that Africans should be committed to eliminate malaria by the year 2030. “Failing to do so is to repeat the great failure of 1960s faced at the global malaria fighting.”

The highlight for the malaria community at the Summit was the recognition of six countries that have made exemplary progress in the past year. The 6 countries that are leading the way to a Malaria-Free Africa by 2030 are Algeria, Comoros, Madagascar, the Gambia, Senegal, and Zimbabwe, recognized by ALMA for their sharp decline in malaria cases. Madagascar, the Gambia, Senegal and Zimbabwe Reduced malaria cases by more than 20 percent from 2015 to 2016. Algeria and Comoros are on track to achieve a more than 40 percent drop in cases by 2020.

H.E . Dr. Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland, whose King and Head of State is the current chair of ALMA, warned all endemic countries that, “When we take our eyes off malaria, the cost for our countries is huge. Yet if we increase our efforts to control and eventually eliminate malaria, the yield we get from it is tremendous. It is time that we dig deep into our pockets and provide malaria programmes with the needed resources.”

Mentioning the need for resources raises a flag that calls on us to be a bit more circumspect about progress. IRINNews notes that this is a critical time in the fight against malaria, when threatened funding cuts could tip the balance in an already precarious struggle. IRIN takes the example of Zambia to raise caution. They report that the results of malaria control and the government efforts have been uneven. While parasite prevalence among small children is down almost by half in some areas, many parts of the country have seen increases in prevalence

IRIN concludes that, “For now, the biggest challenge for Zambia will be closing the gap in its malaria elimination strategy, which will cost around $160 million a year and is currently only about 50 percent funded – two thirds from international donors and one third from the Zambian government. Privately, international donors say the government must spend more money on its malaria programme if it is to succeed.” Cross-border transmission adds to the problem.

Internal strife is another challenge to malaria success. “The recent nurses’ strike which lasted for five months may have cost Kenya a continental award in reducing the prevalence of malaria during the 30th African Union Summit in Ethiopia on Sunday.” John Muchangi in the Star also noted that, “However, Kenya lost momentum last year and a major malaria outbreak during the prolonged nurses’ strike killed more than 30 people within two weeks in October.”

Finally changes in epidemiology threaten efforts to eliminate malaria in Africa. Nkumana, et al. explain that, “Although the burden of Plasmodium falciparum malaria is gradually declining in many parts of Africa, it is characterized by spatial and temporal variability that presents new and evolving challenges for malaria control programs. Reductions in the malaria burden need to be sustained in the face of changing epidemiology whilst simultaneously tackling significant pockets of sustained or increasing transmission. Many countries like Zambia thus face both a financial and an epidemiological challenge.

Fortunately ALMA is equipped with the monitoring and advocacy tools to ensure that its members recognize and respond to such challenges. The Scorecards will keep the fight against the infectious diseases of poverty on track.

Health for All at the International Institute for Primary Health Care, Ethiopia

The time is ripe for a revitalization of the primary health care (PHC) movement. “Health for All through Primary Health Care” (HFA) was first envisioned at the 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care (World Health Organization and UNICEF), and was enshrined in the Declaration of Alma-Ata. The HFA goal of bringing essential, affordable, scientifically sound, socially acceptable  health care provided by health workers who are trained to work as a health team and who are responsive to the health needs of the community, guided by strong community engagement by the year 2000 but has not been fully met. Fortunately the vision of Alma-Ata has taken root, sprouted and flourished in a number of locations.

Thanks to the vision and intellectual and political leadership of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the then Minister of Health of Ethiopia and recently elected Director General of the World Health Organization, Ethiopia is an outstanding example of the Alma-Ata legacy. Access to PHC services was greatly expanded through the training of 40,000 Health Extension Workers (women from the local area with one year of training, each of whom serve 2,500 people and receive a government salary), recruitment of 3 million community female health volunteers (called the Health Development Army), and engagement with communities to enable them to take responsibility for improving their health.

This expansion of PHC enabled Ethiopia to achieve its health-related MDGs. Child mortality (those younger than 5 years of age) declined from 166 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 67 in 2016 (MDG 4). Significant progress was achieved in reducing levels of childhood malnutrition (MDG 1). MDG 5 was almost reached, with a decline in maternal morality of 72%, versus the goal of 75%, and the percentage of mothers obtaining a delivery by a skilled provider increased 6-fold between 1995 and 2016. The prevalence rate of modern contraceptive use increased from 6% in 2000 to 35% in 2016. MDG 6 (for HIV, malaria and tuberculosis) was also reached. The number of new HIV infections declined by 90%, and the number of AIDS-related deaths by 53%. Between 1990 and 2015, the tuberculosis incidence and mortality rate declined by 48% and 72%, respectively. The malaria incidence rate declined by 50% and malaria mortality by 60%. Ethiopia’s PHC system is acknowledged as the major factor leading to these impressive health gains.

Representatives from more than half of sub-Saharan Africa countries have come to Ethiopia to see its PHC system in action. Because of this interest, in 2016 the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia established the International Institute for Primary Health Care – Ethiopia, with seed funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and technical support from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Our goal is for the Institute to become a global center of excellence for training, knowledge dissemination and research in primary health care, supported by multiple donors.

The Institute has begun to provide formalized short-term training to high-level policy makers and officials, program planners and managers, as well as to those engaged in service delivery, to see first-hand how an effective national PHC system functions. Trainees come from within Ethiopia and around the world. Trainees also visit communities, meet their leaders, and observe primary health care providers at work. Trainees will return to their home country with renewed energy and new vision and skills to revitalize their own primary health care system.

The Institute will also conduct and support research that yields evidence to guide ongoing strengthening of the Health Extension Program, and will rapidly disseminate open access information about recent advances in PHC. The Institute marks a significant step forward on the road to achieving the Alma-Ata vision of Health for All.

A website for IIfPHC-E is being built to provide further information about these programs and will be available at: www.iifphc.org.

This posting was prepared by: Kesetebirhan Admasu1, Michael J. Klag2, Yifru Berhan Mitke3, Amir Aman4, Mengesha Admassu5, Solomon Zewdu6, Jose Rimon7, Henry B. Perry8

1Chief Executive Officer, Rollback Malaria Partnership, Geneva, Switzerland and Chair, Advisory Board, International Institute for Primary Health Care — Ethiopia

2Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

3Minister, Federal Ministry of Health, Government of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

4State Minister, Federal Ministry of Health, Government of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Co-Chair, Advisory Board, International Institute for Primary Health Care – Ethiopia

5Executive Director, International Institute for Primary Health Care – Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

6Health and Nutrition Development Lead – Ethiopia, Integrated Programs, Global Policy & Advocacy – Global Development, Bill& Melinda Gates Foundation, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

7Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

8Coordinator for Johns Hopkins University Support of the International Institute for Primary  Health Care – Ethiopia, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

Malaria, War and Death

In wars in malaria endemic areas, malaria can cause more damage than what occurs on the battlefield. The United States just observed its annual Memorial Day where those who died serving the country are remembered. Wing Beats, the journal of the Florida  Mosquito Associations reported on the status of malaria vectors in the state of Georgia and stressed the damage malaria did during the US Civil War:

  • “From 1861 to1866 malaria was the second most commonly diagnosed ailment – diarrhea/dysentery was first – among Union troops, with over 1.3 million cases. Although sold iers native to the South were much more likely to have experienced malaria growing up, they also suffered deaths and incapacitation that affected the timing and outcome of battles.”

UN PeacekeepingDuring the Korean conflict, “paragonimiasis, malaria, and amoebiasis were the most fatal parasitic diseases during the early 1950s in the Korean Peninsula,” and consequently were responsible for deaths of prisoners of war. The U.S. military received a severe damage during World War II in the Pacific where it was said that “more soldiers were lost by malaria than by battle itself.” The experience led to hundreds of units specialized in controlling malaria in Korea.

In Europe during World War II, people in concentration camps and prisoners of war were used in experiments. “In Dachau Professor Claus Schilling tested synthetic malaria drugs and injected helpless prisoners with high and sometimes lethal doses.” Malaria as a biological warfare agent was demonstrated in Italy where “The German army’s 1943 flooding of the Pontine Marshes south of Rome, which later caused a sharp rise in malaria cases among Italian civilians, has recently been described by historian Frank Snowden as a unique instance of biological warfare and bioterrorism.”

Today malaria continues to produce death in conflict zones. “The area of Walikale in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, is intensely affected by conflict and population displacement.” The most frequently reported cause of death among the local population was fever/malaria at 34.1% .

During the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire “the availability and use of protective measures against mosquito bites and accessibility to health care infrastructure deteriorated.” A study of resettlement camps of displaced families after the Angolan civil war “Malnutrition was the leading cause of death (34%), followed by fever or malaria (24%) and war or violence (18%).”

Some of the most highly malaria endemic countries in the world still experience conflicts. Malaria kills directly, it can be used as a weapon, and war disrupts efforts to control it. If we are to “end malaria for good,” we might also think about trying to end war and conflict, too.

Does Malaria Meet the Criteria for Eradication?

World Malaria Report 2015 CoverWhat it is that makes a disease “eradicable,” or more correctly what makes it possible to eliminate malaria in each country leading to the total eradication world-wide. Bruce Aylward and colleagues identified three main sets of factors by drawing on lessons of four previous attempts to eradicate diseases (including the first effort at malaria eradication in the 1950s and ‘60s).[1]

  1. biological and technical feasibility
  2. costs and benefits, and
  3. societal and political considerations

So far smallpox is the only success because as Aylward et al. pointed out biologically, humans were the only reservoir and on the technical side a very effective vaccine was developed. The eradication campaign was promoted in clear terms of economic and related benefits. While the early malaria eradication efforts started with political will and recognition of the potential economic benefits of malaria eradication, the will was not sustained over two decades. On the technical side at that time there was only one main tool again malaria, indoor residual insecticide spraying, and mosquitoes quickly developed resistance to the chemicals. Are we better able to meet the three eradication criteria today?

Today’s technical challenges are embodied in intervention coverage problems. The World Malaria Report of 2015[2] (WMR2015) explains that the problem is most pronounced in the 15 highest burden countries, and consequently these showed the slowest declines in morbidity and mortality over the past 15 years. Use of insecticide treated nets and intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women hovers around 50%, while appropriate case management of malaria lags well below 20%, a far cry from the goals of universal coverage. A further explanation of the technical challenges as outlined in the WMR2015 lies in “weaknesses in health systems in countries with the greatest malaria burden.”

The economic benefits criteria should be most pronounced in the high burden countries, but these are also generally ones with low personal income. Ironically, the WMR2015 points out that it is the high costs of malaria care and the malaria burden that further weaken health systems. More investment is needed in order to see more economic benefits.

Biological challenges to elimination are also identified in the WMR2015. Examples of existing and arising biological difficulties include –

  • Plasmodium vivax malaria which requires a more complicated regimen to affect a cure.
  • “Since 2010, of 78 countries reporting (insecticide resistance) monitoring data, 60 reported resistance to at least one insecticide in one vector population.
  • “P. falciparum resistance to artemisinins has now been detected in five countries in the Greater Mekong subregion.” Historically chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance spread from this area and now artemisinin resistance marks a ‘Third Wave” of resistance emanating from the region.[3]
  • “Human cases of malaria due to P. knowlesi have been recorded – this species causes malaria among monkeys in certain forested areas of South-East Asia,” and so far human-to- human transmission has not been documented.

On the positive side greater political support to elimination efforts has been expressed by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) who met at the African Union Leaders Summit in Addis Abba early in 2015 and resolved to eliminate malaria by 2030.[4] This call to action was backed up with an expansion of ALMA’s quarterly scorecard rating system of African countries’ performance to include elimination indicators.[5]

In conclusion, political will exists, but needs to be backed with greater financial investment in order to produce economic benefits. Time is of the essence in taking action because biological and technical forces are pressing against elimination. 2030 seems far, but we cannot wait another 15 years to take action against these challenges to malaria elimination.

[1] Aylward B, Hennessey KA, Zagaria N, Olivé J, Cochi S. When Is a Disease Eradicable? 100 Years of Lessons Learned. American Journal of Public Health, 2000; 90(10): 1515-20.

[2] World Health Organization. World Malaria Report 2015. WHO Press, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland, 2015.

[3] IRIN (news service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). “Third wave” of malaria resistance lurks on Thai-Cambodia border. August 29, 2014. http://www.irinnews.org/report/100549/third-wave-of-malaria-resistance-lurks-on-thai-cambodia-border

[4] United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on MDGs. African Leaders Call for Elimination of Malaria by 2030. Feb. 3, 2015. http://www.mdghealthenvoy.org/african-leaders-call-for-elimination-of-malaria-by-2030/

[5] African Malaria Leaders Alliance. ALMA 2030 Scorecard Towards Malaria Elimination, December 2014. http://alma2030.org/sites/default/files/sadc-elimination-scorecard/alma_scorecards_poster_english.pdf