Category Archives: Surveillance

Moving toward Malaria Elimination in Botswana

elimination countriesThe just concluded 2015 Global Health Conference in Botswana, hosted by Boitekanelo College at Gaborone International Convention Centre on 11-12 June provided us a good opportunity to examine how Botswana is moving toward malaria elimination. Botswana is one of the four front line malaria elimination countries in the Southern African Development Community and offers lessons for other countries in the region. Combined with the 4 neighboring countries to the north, they are known collectively as the “Elimination Eight”.

The malaria elimination countries are characterised by low leves of transmission in focal areas of the country, often in seasonal or epidemic form. The pathway to malaria elimination requires that a country or defined areas in a country reach a slide positivity rates during peak malaria season of < 5%.

pathwayChihanga Simon et al. provide us a good outline of 60+ years of Botswana’s movements along the pathway beginning with indoor residual spraying (IRS) in the 1950s. Since then the country has expanded vector control to strengthened case management and surveillance. Particular recent milestones include –

  • 2009: Malaria elimination policy required all cases to be tested before treatment malaria elimination target set for 2015
  • 2010: Malaria Strategic Plan 2010–15 using recommendations from programme review of 2009; free LLINs
  • 2012: Case-based surveillance introduced

The national malaria elimination strategy includes the following:Map

  • Focus distribution LLIN & IRS in all transmission foci/high risk districts
  • Detect all malaria infections through appropriate diagnostic methods and provide effective treatment
  • Develop a robust information system for tracking of progress and decision making
  • Build capacity at all levels for malaria elimination

Botswana like other malaria endemic countries works with the Roll Back Malaria Partnership to compile an annual road map that identifies progress made and areas for improvement. The 2015 Road Map shows that –

  • 116,229 LLINs distributed during campaigns in order to maintain universal coverage in the 6 high risk districts
  • 200,721 IRS Operational Target structures sprayed
  • 2,183,238 RDTs distributed and 9,876 microscopes distributed
  • While M&E, Behavior Change, and Program Management Capacity activities are underway

Score cardFinally the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) provides quarterly scorecards on each member. Botswana is making a major financial commitment to its malaria elimination commodity and policy needs. There is still need to sustain high levels of IRS coverage in designated areas.

Monitoring and evaluation is crucial to malaria elimination. Botswana has a detailed M&E plan that includes a geo-referenced surveillance system, GIS and malaria database training for 60 health care workers, traininf for at least 80% of health workers on Case Based Surveillance in 29 districts, and regular data analysis and feedback.

M&E activities also involve supervision visits for mapping of cases, foci and interventions, bi-annual malaria case management audits, enhanced diagnostics through PCR and LAMP as well as Knowledge, Attitudes, Behaviour, and Practice surveys.

Malaria elimination activities are not simple. Just because cases drop, our job is easier. Botswana, like its neighbors in the ‘Elimination Eight’ is putting in place the interventions and resources needed to see malaria really come to an end in the country. Keep up the good work!

Failure of malaria control efforts in northern Zambia

UNICEF, Zambia

UNICEF, Zambia

World Malaria Day 2014 was observed at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on Friday 25 April. 21 posters were presented. Below is the abstract of a third poster presented William Moss and colleagues from the Southern Africa International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research.

Despite distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying and case management with rapid diagnostic tests and artemisinin-based combination therapy, the burden of malaria remains high in northern Zambia.

RBM Impact Series Zambia

RBM Impact Series Zambia

Through passive case detection at health care facilities and active case detection through community-based surveys, we have documented persistently high parasite prevalence in Nchelenge District, Luapula Province, Zambia on the border of Lake Mweru with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Individual and household level risk factors for malaria were assessed and a spatial risk map constructed.

Pyrethroid resistance in local Anopheles funestus populations likely contributes to failure of current control efforts. Potentially contributing to malaria transmission is population movement from the lakeside to inland as fishing and agricultural seasons alternate.

Equally important may be cross-border movement between Nchelenge District, Zambia and Katanga Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, suggesting the importance of epidemiological and entomological studies of cross-border malaria.

Resurgent Malaria in Eastern Zimbabwe

Mutasa District ZimbabweWorld Malaria Day 2014 was observed at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on Friday 25 April. 21 posters were presented. Below is the abstract of another poster presented William Moss and colleagues from the Southern Africa International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research.

Eastern Zimbabwe has experienced recent large outbreaks of malaria after a history of successful control. Through passive case detection at health care facilities and active case detection through community-based surveys, we have documented seasonal malaria outbreaks in Mutasa District, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe on the border with Mozambique.

We identified individuals with subpatent parasitemia who may be responsible for sustaining transmission during the dry season.

Pyrethroid resistance in local Anopheles funestus populations likely contributes to failure of current control efforts.

Potentially contributing to malaria transmission is population movement across the border with Mozambique.

* * * * * * *

Of interest, The Standard newspaper of Zimbabwe recently reported on this problem saying that, “Malaria burden remains high in border towns in Zimbabwe, especially in areas close to Mozambique, health experts have said. While the overall national statistics indicate a major decline from 5 000 deaths to 300 per year, border districts like Mudzi are still recording high cases.”

The feasibility of achieving and sustaining “malaria-free zones” in southern Zambia

World Malaria Day 2014 was observed at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on Friday 25 April. 21 posters were presented. Below is the abstract of a poster presented William Moss and colleagues from the Southern Africa International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research.

miam_handbook_articleimageThe Government of Zambia is committed to creating “malaria-free zones” in southern Zambia. Through passive case detection at health care facilities and active case detection through community-based surveys, we have documented a dramatic decline in the burden of malaria in the catchment area of Macha Hospital, Choma District, Southern Province, Zambia from 2008 through 2013.

Macha Hospital:

Macha Hospital:

However, residual foci of transmission exist and the potential for repeated importation remains. We identified individuals with subpatent parasitemia and gametocytemia who may be responsible for sustained, low-level transmission and evaluated reactive case detection strategies to identify and treat these individuals using simulation models.

Factors associated with sustained insecticide-treated bed net use were evaluated in light of the declining burden of malaria. Parasite bar coding of 24 SNPs should permit the identification of imported parasites.

Results of a longitudinal analysis of changes in antibody responses to 500 Plasmodium falciparum antigens using a protein microarray should allow detection of residual transmission and document loss of humoral immunity in the absence of exposure.

iPhones for household malaria surveys in Sierra Leone

World Malaria Day 2014 was observed at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on Friday 25 April. 21 posters were presented. Below is the abstract of a poster presented by Suzanne Van Hull of Catholic Relief Services.iForm Builder picture on iPhone

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) of Sierra Leone (SL) are co-implementing nationwide malaria prevention and treatment activities funded by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In order to track progress and impact, CRS and partners led the implementation of a malaria indicator survey (MIS) in early 2013 covering a nationally-representative sample of 6,720 households, inclusive of blood testing to determine prevalence of anemia and malaria. In early 2012, CRS also had the experience of using mobile technology for a Knowledge Attitude and Practices (KAP) study.

Fieldworkers used Apple 3GS iPhones for both surveys to collect data via the iFormBuilder platform, a web-based, software-as-services application with a companion app for the mobile devices allowing for timely data collection, monitoring, and analysis.

This was the first time that iPhones were used for a MIS, and lessons learned include: allowing at least four months to transform paper-based questionnaires into electronic format, giving the program enough time for pre-testing the tool and training data collectors/biomarkers/laboratory technicians, and involving key malaria stakeholders to ensure a nationally-led survey. Global Positioning Systems enabled the MoHS to make in-depth analyses on malaria trends based on geographic locations.

KAP survey on iPhoneOverall the benefits of an electronic versus a paper-based MIS questionnaire outweighed the challenges. The iPhone technology eliminated the need for paper transcribing, allowing for quicker data tabulation, real-time identification of mistakes, faster interviewing through skip patterns, and a close-to-clean dataset by the end of data collection saving time and money.

Survey results will be used to set evidence-based targets for all partners’ future malaria activities, especially the next 3 years of GF-supported malaria grants

World Malaria Report 2013: Surveillance and Monitoring, Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Although “Malaria surveillance, monitoring and evaluation” is the seventh of eight chapters in the 2013 World Malaria Report (WMR), it is in fact the heart of the matter.  Progress on goals, finance, vector control, preventive therapies, diagnosis and treatment and of course impact (chapters 2-6 and 8) could not be produced without the documentation processes discussed in Chapter Seven. So what does WMR 2013 tell us about the status of malaria surveillance?

DSCN1496The global press has been taken by World Health Organization estimates that deaths from malaria world-wide have reduced by fifty percent since 2000.[i] These claims have been made despite the note in WMR 2013 that, “In 2012, in 62 countries of 103 that had ongoing malaria transmission in 2000, reporting was considered to be sufficiently consistent to make a reliable judgment about malaria trends for 2000–2012. In the 41 remaining countries, which account for 80% of estimated cases, it is not possible to reliably assess malaria trends using the data submitted to WHO. Information systems are weakest, and the challenges for strengthening systems are greatest, where the malaria burden is greatest.”[ii]

WHO explains that, “Improved surveillance for malaria cases and deaths will help ministries to determine which areas or population groups are most affected and help to target resources to communities most in need.”  WHO suggests that the design of malaria surveillance systems focuses on two fundamental factors. First, the level of malaria transmission should be ascertained, and the resources available to conduct surveillance must be made available. WHO has released two manuals to strengthen malaria surveillance depending on whether the country is high burden and still at the level of “Malaria Control,”[iii] or the country is approaching “Malaria Elimination.”[iv]

3T BrocheureThe World Health Organization has issued a series of documents focusing on “Test. Treat. Track.” or ‘3T’.  In short these documents support malaria-endemic countries in their efforts to achieve universal coverage with 1) diagnostic testing, 2) antimalarial treatment, and 3) strengthening their malaria surveillance systems to track the disease.[v]

WHO notes that in elimination settings, surveillance systems should seek to identify and immediately provide notification of all malaria infections, whether they are symptomatic or not. A summary of WHO’s recommendations for the “Track” or surveillance aspect of 3T follow:

  1. Individual cases should be registered at health facility level. This allows for the recording of suspected cases, diagnostic test results, and treatments administered
  2. In the malaria control phase, countries should report suspected, presumed and confirmed cases separately, and summarize aggregate data on cases and deaths on a monthly basis
  3. Countries in elimination phase should undertake a full investigation of each malaria case.

Some country examples of surveillance efforts in the move toward malaria elimination will be featured in the upcoming January 2014 issue of Africa Health. Watch for it at:

[i] Pizzi M. WHO: Malaria deaths of young children cut by half, but gains ‘fragile’. Aljazeera America. December 11, 2013.

[ii] WHO GLOBAL MALARIA PROGRAMME. World Malaria Report: 2013. World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland, 2013.

[iii] World Health Organization. Disease surveillance for malaria control. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2012.

[iv] World Health Organization. Disease surveillance for malaria elimination: an operational manual. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2012.

[v] World Health Organization. Test. Treat. Track. Scaling up diagnostic testing, treatment and surveillance for malaria. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2012.

Malaria Highlights at TropMed2013 Saturday 16th November

Below please find a brief list of some of the presentations coming up today at the American Society of Tropical Medicine 62nd Annual Conference in Washington DC. Click links to view abstracts.


Rapid clearance of parasitemia by the novel spiroindolone KAE609 in a phase 2 open-label study of adults with acute, uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum or vivax malaria mono-infection by Nicholas White et al.

In summary, when administered 30 mg daily for 3 days, KAE609 was well tolerated and achieved rapid parasite clearance in adult patients with uncomplicated P. vivax or P. falciparum malaria infection.

Symposium on Implementation of Mass Drug Administration for Malaria Control and Elimination. Symposium Organizer: Roly Gosling, Global Health Group, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco

With the recognition that a large proportion of malaria infections are low density, below the level of detection by microscopy or Rapid Diagnostic Test, MDA is coming back into favor. The speakers will explore the drug choices available for MDA in different settings; for example, for P. falciparum settings in Haiti, The Gambia and the Artemsisinin Resistance Containment zone, and for P. vivax in Asia and the Pacific.

Innovative Field Tools for Detecting Counterfeit Medicines – The Case Study of Anti-Malarials. Symposium Organizer: JOEL BREMAN, FOGARTY INTERNATIONAL CENTER, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH

The need for innovative field tools for the detection of spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit medicines is becoming increasingly important, particularly in low-resource settings. A global public health crisis is looming, especially in malaria treatment and prevention, where up to 90 percent of antimalarials in surveys done in Asia and Africa are reported to be falsified or substandard.

Session: Malaria Epidemiology – Tracking Trends and Finding Foci, Village-level characteristics associated with spatial distributions of malaria-infected individuals in an area of Southern Zambia receiving mass screening and treatment by David A Larson et al.

Varying spatial distributions of malaria-infected individuals appear to be driven by vector abundance and gametocyte prevalence in the population. The ability to clearly delineate village malaria prevalence may assist in developing mechanisms for focused interventions to optimize their effectiveness.

Session: Malaria Epidemiology – Tracking Trends and Finding Foci. Reservoirs of asymptomatic malaria in Malawi: results of two cross-sectional studies by Jenny A. Walldorf et al.

In Malawi and potentially in other endemic settings, school age children represent important reservoirs of asymptomatic infection and should be targeted for interventions to interrupt transmission.

Session: Malaria Epidemiology – Tracking Trends and Finding Foci. Sustained Declining Burden of Malaria at Community level in Northeastern Tanzania. by Acleus S. Rutta et al.

The reported decline of malaria in most parts of Tanzania has some implication on accuracy of malaria diagnosis and management. The current remarkable and sustained decline in malaria suggests that these areas might be moving from control to pre-elimination levels.

Eliminate Malaria, Not Malaria Funding

As countries begin to see the benefits of sustained malaria intervention, they worry that they may be punished by donor agencies for their success. For example, The Tanzania Daily News reports that, “HEALTH officials in Zanzibar have said that the Islands are likely to experience problems in the fight against Malaria should major donors, including Global Fund and the United States government pull out from financing the project.”

dscn9801a.jpgZanzibar is nearing pre-elimintion malaria transmission levels but is dependent on donor funding to maintain progress. The Daily News specifies that, “The US through its President’s Malaria Initiatives (PMI) remains the leading financier with 56 per cent of the funds received for the malaria campaign. Global Fund is 40 per cent, WHO and UNICEF two per cent; other donors 1.97 per cent; and Zanzibar government is 0.03 per cent.”

Health officials did clarify the actual situation by saying that, “We are happy that PMI has not shown any indication to pull out, but we must prepare ourselves and look for alternative financiers should the US stop supporting Malaria programme.” A look at the latest grant progress report for Zanzibar at the Global Fund website had only a report from August 2012 for Round 8 Malaria Grant that was made near the end of Phase 1 of the grant.

It is not clear if Phase 2 of the Global Fund grant has been or will be funded, but we know that the GFATM has been going through financial difficulties and changes.  This is likely why Zanzibar health managers are worried. The last grant rating was files back in 2011 and gave the program a ‘B2’ rating which is cause for caution and possibly hints at reasons why Phase 2 is in limbo.

PMI reports that donor support and Zanzibari leadership, “has resulted in a dramatic decrease in malaria prevalence in Zanzibar. However, persistence of malaria transmission in surrounding areas (Tanzania mainland and Kenya) leaves the island vulnerable to sudden outbreaks and the re-establishment of ongoing, perennial malaria transmission.” Even though Zanzibar is an island, it is still vulnerable, and any withdrawal of support would negate and reverse gains made. For example, PMI explains that Zanzibar is a place where “Malaria Early Epidemic Detection System (MEEDS) … an innovative mHealth system” is being tested.

Pre-elimination not only requires sustaining existing interventions, but also implementing new ones like MEEDS in order to maintain necessary surveillance that will ultimately document whether malaria elimination has succeeded. As PMI notes, “MEEDS and Coconut Surveillance are helping Zanzibar to identify and treat many otherwise undiagnosed malaria cases, identifying hot spots and transmission patterns, and responding rapidly to new outbreaks. These mHealth applications are helping Zanzibar to sustain the remarkable gains it has made against this dangerous and debilitating disease.”

Also, “maintaining and continuing to reduce malaria transmission will require ongoing education for both health care providers and residents to reinforce the importance of using preventive measures,” as the public and health workers perceive the drop in prevalence according to Bauch and colleagues. Malaria prevalence in Zanzibar has been less that 1% for over 6 years, and we need to continue to reduce it.

Interventions in the final phases of malaria elimination may not be as dramatic or visible as distributing millions of insecticide treated bednets, but they are just as essential.  We need to maintain support in all endemic countries until we see malaria elimination through to its conclusion. Otherwise years of intervention will be wasted, and new lives will be lost.

Addressing the Barriers of a Malaria Implementation Program in Jacmel, Haiti

Mary E. Schmidt, M.D. has studied the malaria situation in Haiti for her MPH capstone project at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has shared the abstract of the project with us here.

pf_class_2010_htism.jpgBackground:  Hispaniola is the only Caribbean island still endemic for malaria.  While the Dominican Republic continues to see improvement in the use of prevention measures and malaria rates, Haiti has been unable to organize, operate and fund a sustainable program.  The city of Jacmel in the South East District has the capacity to create a successful program.

Materials and Methods:  A literature review was performed of population based surveillance studies to understand the epidemiology of malaria in Haiti and the South East District. Individuals were interviewed to understand the Minister of Public Health and Population (MSPP) malaria policy and the current epidemiologic practices.  Haitian physicians and CBO workers were observed and interviewed to understand how malaria is diagnosed and treated, how patients are educated and the current community malaria prevention programs.

A literature review was performed of  materials from malaria experts, the World Health Organization (WHO), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and The Global Fund to better understand the components of a successful malaria elimination program.

Results:  This review focused on the current barriers of a malaria implementation program in Jacmel and the national system that would prevent a successful program.   The review led to the creation of a malaria elimination framework for Jacmel and the South East District.

The framework emphasizes a strong management and operations component.  The MSPP office communicates with finance, surveillance, the district health officer, and the operations team.  For a functional system, operations and management communicates with the MSPP oversight team and receives input from finance and surveillance in order to manage training, deployment, communications and local surveillance.

Monitoring and Evaluation is done on a district level and reported to district operations to help with managing the program and to the surveillance team.  Recommendations for policy development include focus on diagnostics, specific treatment, vector control, education and monitoring.  Barriers include funding and implementing an adequate operation and deployment team.

Conclusion:  The implementation of an effective malaria elimination program in Haiti will require MSPP leadership oversight and a strong operations and management team in each district.  The city of Jacmel in the South East District has the  interest and support from local CBOs and business leaders that make it the ideal location to implement the framework and create a sustainable program.

Malaria Vector Bionomics During the Dry Season in Nchelenge District, Zambia

Smita Das and Douglas E Norris of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute have written our guest blog posting based on a poster they presented at the recent JHU Global Health Day.

picture1-smita-das-and-douglas-norris-jhmri-sm.jpgAs part of the International Centers of Excellence in Malaria Research (ICEMR) in Southern Africa project, mosquito collections are being conducted in Nchelenge District in Luapula Province, Zambia. Nchelenge experiences hyperendemic malaria despite continued implementation of indoor residual spraying (IRS) and long-lasting insecticide nets (LLINs) as control measures.

Center for Disease Control light trap (CDC LT) and pyrethroid spray catch (PSC) collections performed during the wet season in April 2012 revealed the presence of both Anopheles gambiae s.s. and An. funestus s.s. Both species were highly anthropophilic and the Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite infection rate in An. funestus was higher compared to An. gambiae.

In the dry season collections, An. funestus continued to be the dominant species with even fewer An. gambiae caught compared to the wet season.  Due to the abundance of An. funestus and high human malaria infection rates in Nchelenge, it is predicted that the human blood index and entomological inoculation rate for An. funestus is higher than that of An. gambiae in both seasons.

The multiple blood feeding behavior and insecticide resistance status of both malaria vectors will also be explored as this can give us an idea of estimating the transmission potential of these mosquitoes. The vector data in Nchelenge present unique opportunities to further our understanding of malaria transmission and the implications for malaria control in high-risk areas.