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Malaria – an old disease attacking the young population of Kenya

Wambui Waruingi recently described her experiences working on malaria in Kenya on the site, “Social, Cultural & Behavioral Issues in PHC & Global Health.” Her thoughts and lessons are found below.

Malaria is an old disease, and not unfamiliar to the people of Lwala, Migori county, Nyanza province, situated in Kenya, East Africa. The most vulnerable are pregnant women and young children.The Lwala Community Alliance have reduced the rate of under 5 mortality to 20% of what it was 10 years ago, and about 30% of what it is in Migori county (reported 29 deaths/ 1000 in 2018)

Of the scourges that remain, malaria is one of them.

Malaria is caused by a protozoal species called Plasmodium spp; the most severe is Plasmodium falciparum, the predominant type in the region.It’s life cycle exemplifies evolution at it’s most sophisticated, albeit vulnerable, needing two hosts of different species to complete it’s life cycle, the mosquito, and mammalian species in stages of asexual then asexual reproduction respectively.

The mosquito types responsible for malaria in the area are A. gambiae spp and A. arabiensis spp. To complete it’s life cycle, the mosquito requires water, or an aquatic environment to develop it’s larvae. This insect therefore seeks to lay it’s eggs in pools of fresh water, abundant in the area due to Lake Victoria, and important source of the local staple fish, and areas of underdeveloped grassland surrounding the lake and village.

WHO reported 219 million cases of malaria world wide, with 435,000 deaths in the same year. In this day and age, malaria remains burdensome in 11 countries, 10 of them being in Africa. WHO recommends a focused response. https:// I advocate a focus on prevention by eradicating mosquitoes and episodes of mosquito bites in the region. WHO vector control guidelines run along the idea of chemical and biological larvicides, topical repellents,and personal protective measures, such as bed nets, wearing long sleeves and pants (hard to do in the heat of Migori), bug spray and insecticide treated nets. These are effective.

In the area, mosquitoes capitalize on both daytime and nighttime feeding. Lwala benefits from a mosquito net distribution program so there is at least 1 net/ per household and a coverage of about 95%,, but there is an average of 5.5 individuals per household,
file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Migori%20County.pdf , so it conceivable that not all children under 5 currently sleep under a net.

Let’s start by making sure they do by scaling up this program, so that the number of nets corresponds with the number of individuals per household.

Lwala is an active community, and while use of nets will eliminate night feeders such as A. gambiae , little children will be susceptible to mosquito bites given that they are outdoors nearly daily helping with activities such as fishing, goat herding, fetching water and so forth. That is why active programs for mosquito eradication make so much sense in the region. While promoting personal prevention measures such as the use of “bugspray” containing effective substances such as DEET, efforts by the Bill and Melissa gates foundation, through the Malaria R&D (research and development) active since 2004, have devoted over $323 million dollars, about 20% ($50.4 million) of which has gone to the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, (IVCC) led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The aim is to fast track improved insecticides, both biological and chemical, and other measures of vector control. I suggest that partnership with the IVCC be scaled up in the area, allowing Lwala to be first line in any benefits thereof.,

Finally, it’s official. Research endorses use of nets and indoor residual spraying as an effective way to reduce malaria density. This should be coupled with house improvement, since much of traditional and poverty-maintained materials, allow environments in which the mosquito can hide, to come out later to feed, and even breed. In Migori county, 72% of the homes have earth floors, 76% have corrugated roofs, and 21% have grass-thatched roofs. file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Migori%20County.pdf

All these promote a healthy habitat for the mosquito during the rainy season, and easy entry and hiding places all year round. Funding to improve house types so that locally-sourced but sturdy, water-proof homes can be built, will eliminate opportunities for the mosquito to access and bite young children.

Let’s get stakeholders vested in this effective, yet economical way to address malaria deaths in the youngest children. Starting now, funding should be diverted from costly treatments with ever mounting resistance patterns, to causing extinction of the Anopheles mosquito in Migori county. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

Asymptomatic Malaria – we need to eliminate what we can’t see

After the World’s first attempt at eradicating the complicated disease malaria mainly through a single tool, a period of control set in where the aim was to reduce mortality through prompt and presumptive treatment of fevers with anti-malarials, particularly in young children. During this period in the 1980s and 1990s it was recognized that parasite-based diagnostic capabilities in the form of microscopy were limited, so in malaria endemic areas, it was worth providing inexpensive medicines like chloroquine (CQ) and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) to febrile children in order to save lives. When the fevers did not resolve, other illnesses explored.

The difficulty arose in identifying cases that did not offer clinical clues that they might be malaria. Today countries approaching malaria elimination face challenges, such as seen in Zanzibar where, “outdoor transmission, a large asymptomatic parasite reservoir and imported infections, require novel tools and reoriented strategies to prevent a rebound effect and achieve elimination.”[i] Here we examine the challenge of asymptomatic malaria infections.


By 1998 when the Roll Back Malaria partnership formed, there had been enough research done so that the malaria community had a better arsenal of interventions including insecticide-treated bed nets, artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) and intermittent preventive treatment with SP during pregnancy. The Abuja Declaration of 2000 set a target of 80% coverage of these interventions by the year 2010.

While ACTs overcame the challenges of parasite resistance that had developed for the single drugs, CQ and SP, it cost several times more than those medicines. The need for easy-to-use, inexpensive, point-of-care diagnostics was recognized so that not only would ACTs be targeted only to parasitologically confirmed malaria cases, but also in the process, overuse and misuse would not contribute to parasite resistance of these new drugs.[ii] Unfortunately, the development and dissemination of antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), lagged behind the availability of ACTs meaning that health workers unfortunately continued their business as usual with presumptive treatment using ACTs. 

The benefits of RDTs were generally two-fold. First, they could be used by front-line, auxiliary and community-based health workers. Secondly, they tended to identify more cases than microscopy. The big challenge was convincing health workers to use them and trust the results, because the era of presumptive treatment had given these staff a false sense of confidence in their own clinical diagnostic abilities.

Although reaching the 2010 coverage targets has remained illusive for most endemic countries, there has been enough progress for major reductions in incidence (despite a recent upsurge).[iii] As the proportion of actual malaria cases among febrile illness patients declines, concern has risen that transmission might continue among people with subclinical or asymptomatic malaria. Here we explore the extent of this problem and new directions in parasitological testing needed to ensure continued progress toward elimination in each endemic country.

Understanding the Risk of Asymptomatic Malaria

Risk can relate to geographical, epidemiological, and socio-demographic factors as well as history of malaria interventions. Kenya has stratified the country by higher and lower malaria transmission areas. Even the higher areas are comparatively low compared to its higher transmission neighbors. Studying the prevalence of asymptomatic malaria in some of these higher transmission areas in the west of the country was seen as a way to better identify people at risk and learn about intervention effectiveness. An examination of apparently healthy children (no symptoms) revealed a Plasmodium falciparum malaria prevalence 36.0% (27.5%, 44.5%) by RDT and 22.3% (16.0%, 28.6%) by thick film microscopy.[iv] Living in a household with electricity was protective but the adjusted odds ratio of prevalence comparing households with and without indoor residual spray showed only borderline benefit. Unfortunately, in Zanzibar, asymptomatic malaria infection was not associated “with use of any vector control.”1

A major challenge in detecting cases through routine health care systems is care seeking patterns of care seeking for fever. The 2018 World Malaria Report acknowledges that there are major equity challenges in care seeking wherein families with higher incomes, better education and living in urban areas are more likely to seek help for their febrile children that rural, poor and less educated families who would be more at risk. Care seeking without the signs of fever is more challenging. A dual strategy of enabling better service utilization as well as outreach to detect cases will be necessary to detect asymptomatic cases.3

In Burkina Faso, the prevalence of asymptomatic malaria infection in children under 5 years of age was estimated at 38.2% in 24 of its 70 health districts. Those at most risk for asymptomatic malaria infection included the following:[v]

  • older children (48–59 vs < 6 months: OR: 6.79 [5.62, 8.22])
  • children from very poor households (Richest vs poorest: OR: 0.85 [0.74–0.96])
  • households located more than 5 km from a health facility (< 5 km vs ? 5 km: OR: 1.14 [1.04–1.25])
  • localities with inadequate number of nurses (< 3 vs ? 3: 0.72 [0.62, 0.82]
  • rural areas (OR: 1.67 [1.39–2.01])

Nine districts reported significantly higher risks (Batié, Boromo, Dano, Diébougou, Gaoua, Ouahigouya, Ouargaye, Sapouy and Toma. The researchers concluded that, “Such national spatial analysis should help to prioritize areas for increased malaria control activities.”

A study in Ghana found that, “children and pregnant women had higher prevalence of submicroscopic gametocytes (39.5% and 29.7%, respectively) compared to adults

An additional concern is emerging in terms of sharing of malaria parasite species between humans and primates, especially as urbanization and deforestation push these two populations into closer contact. For example Mapua and colleagues working in Central Africa Republic, “found the human malaria parasite P. ovale wallikeri in both asymptomatic humans and western lowland gorillas in Dzanga Sangha Protected Areas. Molecular analysis revealed that the genotype of the P. ovale wallikeri DNA found in a gorilla was genetically identical to that of a human isolate within the mt cytb and mt cox 1 genes, indicating potential human–ape transmission.”[vii] They noted similar sharing of parasites in the region between humans and chimpanzees.

Detecting and Responding to Asymptomatic Cases

WHO’s Framework for Malaria Elimination[viii] recognizes the important role of case detection and subsequent treatment as well as broader community level preventive responses around detected cases. In the context of elimination WHO notes that case detection “requires use of a diagnostic test to identify asymptomatic malaria infections.” WHO stresses that a case is a case, regardless of whether it is symptomatic or asymptomatic, as long as the diagnostic process confirms presence of malaria infection.

It is important to monitor Plasmodium parasitemia in areas where malaria transmission has declined and efforts to achieve malaria elimination are underway, such as Zambia, where 3,863 household members were tested.[ix] Only 2.6% were positive by either microscopy, RDT, or PCR. Of these, 48 (47%) had subpatent parasitemia, and 85% of those with subpatent parasitemia were asymptomatic. “Compared with individuals without parasitemia, individuals with subpatent parasitemia were significantly more likely to be aged 5–25 years.” The authors suggested that their findings pointed to the need for active or reactive case detection to identify asymptomatic individuals and thus better target individuals with subpatent parasitemia with appropriate malaria interventions.

WHO explains that active case detection (ACD) takes place in areas of limited or under-utilization of health care services.4 It may start with initial screening for symptoms, followed by appropriate parasitological laboratory confirmation. In low-transmission settings or as part of a focus investigation, “ACD may consist of testing of a defined population group without prior symptom screening (population-wide or mass testing) in order to identify asymptomatic infections.” Elimination cannot be achieved until even asymptomatic infections have stopped. The challenge is the expense of community-wide screening.

Reactive Case Detection (RCD), according to WHO, takes place in settings low transmission intensity where the few “occurring malaria cases are highly aggregated.”4 When a case is identified, usually through identification of an actual infected patient at a local clinic, the community where the patient comes from is visited and a “net is cast around the index case” where household members and neighbors within a selected radius are tested. In this process asymptomatic cases are also identified.

Our existing diagnostic tools may be inadequate. McCreesh and colleagues reported on subpatent malaria in Namibia that, “fever history and standard RDTs are not useful to address this burden. Achievement of malaria elimination may require active case detection using more sensitive point-of-care diagnostics or presumptive treatment and targeted to high-risk groups.” This includes loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) using dried blood spots, which they tested.[x] Likewise from experience in a Zambian study, Kobayashi and co-researchers suggest, “more sensitive diagnostic tests or focal drug administration may be necessary to target individuals with subpatent parasitemia to achieve malaria elimination.”[xi]

Responses to detecting asymptomatic cases start at the individual level with prompt treatment of those found through RCD to be infected. Then focused preventive interventions such as distribution of insecticide treated bednets can be provided to those in the cluster or village. Follow-up would be needed for such ‘hot spots.’ 

On a broader basis we have Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) as practiced in Sahelian countries where during the peak transmission (rainy) season intermittent preventive treatment is given to children monthly by community health workers and volunteers. Of course, many of these children would be asymptomatic carriers and SMC could benefit the reduction of parasites in circulation. At present SMC focuses on pre-school aged children, but Thera and co-researchers stress the importance of reaching school aged children who are also often asymptomatic carriers.[xii]

Another intervention being tested for mass drug administration (MDA) use providing the community with ivermectin, a drug that has been highly effective in controlling filarial diseases and also found to kill mosquitoes who take a blood meal from a person who has recently taken it.[xiii] This strategy is still being tested, but again MDA means all community members, especially those with asymptomatic infection, would be reached.

A major question requires further research. To what extent do asymptomatic, submicroscopic and subpatent parasitemia contribute to continued malaria transmission? Another question is how can we address malaria infection in other primates? We know that scientists recommend targeting of malaria elimination interventions based on mapping of these infections.5 We therefore need to study the actual transmission potential of this phenomenon.

[i] Björkman A, Shakely D, Ali AS, Morris U, Mkali H, Abbas AK, Al-Mafazy A-W, Haji KA, Mcha J, Omar R, Cook J, Elfving K, Petzold M, Sachs MC, Aydin-Schmidt B, Drakeley V, Msellem M and Mårtensson A. From high to low malaria transmission in Zanzibar—challenges and opportunities to achieve elimination. BMC Medicine (2019) 17:14,

[ii] Global Malaria Programme. Universal access to malaria diagnostic testing – An operational manual. World Health Organization. November 2011 (rev. February 2013).

[iii] Global Malaria Programme. World malaria report 2018. World Health Organization. 19 November 2018.

[iv] Peprah S, Tenge C, Genga IO, Mumia M, Were PA, Kuremu RT, Wekes WN,  Sumba PO, Kinyera T, Otim T, Legason ID, Biddle J, Reynolds SJ, Talisuna AO, Biggar1 RJ, Bhatia K, Goedert JJ, Pfeiffer RM, Mbulaiteye SM. A Cross-Sectional Population Study of Geographic, Age-Specific, and Household Risk Factors for Asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum Malaria Infection in Western Kenya. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Volume 100, Issue 1, Jan 2019, p.54-65. DOI:

[v] Ouédraogo M, Samadoulougou S, Rouamba T, Hien H, Sawadogo JEM Tinto H, Alegana VA, Speybroeck N and Kirakoya?Samadoulougou F. Spatial distribution and determinants of asymptomatic malaria risk among children under 5 years in 24 districts in Burkina Faso. Malaria Journal 2018; 17:460

[vi] Lamptey H, Ofori MF, Kusi KA, Adu B, Owusu-Yeboa E, Kyei-Baafour E, Arku AT, Bosomprah S, Alifrangis M, Quakyi IA. The prevalence of submicroscopic Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte carriage and multiplicity of infection in children, pregnant women and adults in a low malaria transmission area in Southern Ghana. Malar J. 2018 Sep 17;17(1):331. doi: 10.1186/s12936-018-2479-y.

[vii] Mapua MI, Hans-Peter Fuehrer HP, Petrželková KJ, Todd A, Noedl H, Qablan MA, and Modrý D. Plasmodium ovale wallikeri in Western Lowland Gorillas and Humans Central African Republic. Emerging Infectious Disease journal. Volume 24, Number 8—August 2018.

[viii] Global Malaria Programme. A framework for malaria elimination. ISBN 978-92-4-151198-8. World Health Organization 2017,

[ix] Kobayashi T, Kanyangarara M, Laban NM, Phiri M, Hamapumbu H, Searle KM, Stevenson JC, Thuma PE, Moss WJ and the Southern Africa International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research. Characteristics of Subpatent Malaria in a Pre-Elimination Setting in Southern Zambia. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 10 December 2018, DOI:

[x] McCreesh P, Mumbengegwi D, Roberts K, Tambo M, Smith J, Whittemore B, Kelly G, Moe C, Murphy M, Chisenga M, Greenhouse B, Ntuku H, Kleinschmidt I, Sturrock H, Uusiku P, Gosling R, Bennett A, Hsiang MS. Subpatent malaria in a low transmission African setting: a cross-sectional study using rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) from Zambezi region, Namibia. Malar J. 2018 Dec 19;17(1):480. doi: 10.1186/s12936-018-2626-5.

[xi] Kobayashi T, Kanyangarara M, Laban NM, Phiri M, Hamapumbu H, Searle KM, Stevenson JC, Thuma PE, Moss WJ, For The Southern Africa International Centers Of Excellence For Malaria Research.Characteristics of Subpatent Malaria in a Pre-Elimination Setting in Southern Zambia. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2018 Dec 10. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.18-0399. [Epub ahead of print]

[xii] Thera MA, Konea AK, Tangaraa B, Diarraa E, Niarea A, Dembeleb A, Sissokoa MS, Doumboa OK. School-aged children based seasonal malaria chemoprevention using artesunate-amodiaquine in Mali. Parasite Epidemiology and Control 3 (2018) 96–105.

[xiii] Smit MR, Ochomo EO, Aljayyoussi G, Kwambai TK, Abong’o BO, Chen T, Bousema T, Slater HC, Waterhouse D, Bayoh NM, Gimnig JE, Samuels AM, Desai MR, Phillips-Howard PA, Kariuki SK, Wang D, Ward SA, ter Kuile FO. Safety and mosquitocidal efficacy of high-dose ivermectin when co-administered with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. Published online March 27, 2018

Supporting PHC through Performance Based Financing (PBF) in Rwanda


Management Sciences for Health notes[1] that, “PBF is a powerful means for increasing the quantity and quality of health services by providing incentives to health providers to improve performance. A PBF program typically includes performance?based grants or contracts. Health clinics and their staff are rewarded for reaching or exceeding health indicators.” MSH cautioned that, “while PBF is expected to reduce unit costs in the long?term by increasing productivity, unit costs may actually increase in the short term when services have previously been underfunded???as salaries rise to appropriate levels, missing equipment and supplies are purchased, and facilities are upgraded.” In the long term they explained that PBF had a, “crucial impact on revenues received at health centers, motivated access to quality services for the people served, and allowed the Government of Rwanda to actively manage its investments in pursing national health goals.”

Performance Based Financing applies to health workers from CHWs to facility staff and beyond.

Between 2001 and the mid-2000s Rwanda introduced and began scaling up PBF. The focus of health care shifted from inputs to outputs to outcomes.  “Performance improvements that have been documented in Rwanda after the introduction of performance incentives for primary health care and HIV/AIDS service products have been impressive.”[2] In two pilot districts health care consultations per capita more than doubled. Institutional deliveries tripled. Child immunization, maternal immunization and contraceptive prevalence rates also increased.

There is national policy and political support for PBF as it fits into government desired for accountability. Financial support comes from government and specific programs within the Ministry of Health such as malaria elimination and TB control who have invested in specific performance indicators. Donors such as USAID, World Bank, and Global Fund, play a major role in providing the technical and financial support that pays for performance.

Community Level

PBF in Rwanda operates at all levels of the health system, but of interest to PHC are the front-line health centers and the local cooperatives and community health workers (CHWs). CHW support came about in 2008 as a strategy to sustain the CHWs system. PBF in Rwanda is based on two kinds of contracts, contracts on the performance of the health unit and contracts on the performance of individual health workers.

The PBF procedures manual[3] explains that, “Community PBF (C-PBF) is implemented at the village level through the trained community health workers (CHW) operational within each community. Health posts are located at the cell level and due to their private or faith-based organizations affiliation they are not integrated into the PBF system. Health Center PBF is implemented at the sector’s level health center while district and provincial hospitals are implementing the district hospital PBF model (recently linked with accreditation).”

Under the USAID MCHIP Project, Jhpiego conducted a malaria program implementation assessment in Rwanda that examined the health systems building blocks including financing. The report noted that, “Cooperatives have been set up for CHW; there are usually about 120 people (depending on the number of CHWs in the catchment area of the health center) per cooperative with a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and three advisors.[4] Cooperatives can engage in many different types of income-generating activities, based on the agreement among the members, and the executive committee makes final decisions and determines how income will be disbursed among members.”

The aspect of PBF contracting is undertaken with the CHW Cooperative. “Through the PBF, CHW cooperatives can earn ~250USD per quarter from the government. The total amount is based on the completeness of CHW reports and their performance on 20 set indicators. These indicators include elements such as timeliness and completeness of reports, number of pregnant women receiving consultation in the first trimester, number of women accepting family planning (new and continuing clients), and infant growth monitoring.”

Rwanda has also introduced a quality of services element known as Pay-4-Performance, and entities such as health centers and CHW cooperatives are also given a quality score arising from supervisory processes. The quality component has helped “cooperatives linked to the PBF address issues of attrition and motivation. The division of supervision among cell leaders also reduces the work burden for facility-based supervisors.” Practical service delivery problems such as stock-outs of commodities are less likely to occur at the community level when PBF is in place. The challenge moving forward may be the stress created by adding more responsibilities to the duties of the CHWs.

The MCHIP report concluded that, “PBF has set up a system of accountability so that not only is funding spent appropriately, but results are also expected and rewarded. PBF addresses the challenges of motivation that so often plague health care workers and managers in other countries who do not see rewards for working hard and doing a good job. The fact that the system of emphasis on quality services in sufficient quantities radiates from the national to the district to the community level (i.e., districts reporting to the President’s office, and CHWs reporting on indicators to health center supervisors) ensures that a culture of rewarding good performance is developing.” A systems challenge is dependence on donor support in terms of both continuity and donor focus, as many donors focus on particular interventions (malaria, family planning), leaving gaps among the service indicators.

[1] Management Sciences for Health. The Health Impact of Performance-Based Financing in Rwanda. Published: 2010?12?23

[2] Louis Rusa, (National PBF Coordinator-Ministry of Health Rwanda), and Gyuri Fritsche, (Health Care Financing Specialist-Management Sciences for Health). Rwanda: Performance-Based Financing in Health. Sourcebook: Second Edition.

[3] Ministry of Health, Rwanda. Performance Based Financing Procedures Manual for Health Facilities (Hospitals and Health Centers). April 2018.

[4] Maternal and Child Health Intergrated Program (USAID, Jhpiego). Analysis of the Status of Prevention and Control of Malaria in Rwanda: Best Practices and Challenges to Program Implementation. November 2013.

Community Health Officers Extend Primary Health Care in Ghana

In the 1990s the Navrongo research center started the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) initiative 3 pilot districts. The CHPS Initiative has now become the national strategy for implementing community-based service delivery by reorienting and relocating primary health care from sub-district health centers to convenient community locations.[1] CHPS is even seen as crucial to Ghana’s broader poverty reduction agenda and policy.

CHPS Compound, Upper East region
CHPS Compound, Western region

The CHPS Operational Policy notes that, CHPS was designed to operate at the third tier of the district health system that encompassed a district hospital, sub-district health centers and community-based services by addressing the needs of zones of 3000-4,500 residents “where primary health care services will be provided to the population by a resident Community Health Officer (CHO) assisted by the Community structures and volunteer systems. The deployment of all elements necessary for the CHO to provide house-to house service shall make that zone a fully functional CHPS zone within the sub-district,” thus creating CHPS compounds. It is the CHO who represents the human resource innovation in the Ghana system

A CHO engages each Community within the zone in micro planning of health activities termed “community decision making systems,” building on the following key elements: Community (as social capital); Households and individuals (as target); Planning with the community (community participation); and Service delivery with the community (client focused).

Community health nurses (CHN) trained in the nation’s various schools of nursing would be designated a CHO once they were posted to a CHPS compound. The CHPS compound, often a building donated by the community or a philanthropist served as a health post and accommodation for the CHO. There could be two CHOs and a trained midwife, since CHNs are not trained to conduct delivery. The CHOs are expected to deliver a package of essential primary health care and promotion services at the community level that revolves around home visiting. The idea is to take services to the clients.

While the curriculum of a CHN addresses some basic issues of the CHPS program, CHNs do not exit school as ready-made CHOs. Those who opt to become CHOs must receive orientation from the regions and districts where they work in a CSPS. Depth and quality of orientation varies. CHOs could be assisted by community health volunteers who are supervised by a community health committee.

Sacks et al. report that CHNs obtain a Certificate in Community Health Nursing as part of pre-service training after completing a 2-year curriculum post-secondary school.[2] After 3-5 years of service, CHNs can enroll for higher education to become a midwife or public health nurse (PHN). Sacks and colleagues found that CHN/CHO satisfaction was often determined by professional isolation and lack of basic resources and materials to perform their jobs.

By 2002, 95 out of 110 districts had launched the CHPS program, though not every potential zone was covered. The rapid national expansion of the CHPS program may have contributed to some of the CHNs’ frustrations, as the time was not taken to recruit and train health workers from the target communities who would have spoken the same language. Facilities were not upgraded prior to the increase of health workers and communities were not prepared to provide free housing to CHNs, as originally planned, say Sacks and co-researchers. Although the original goal was for CHPS to achieve complete national coverage by 2015 through the establishment of 6,000 CHPS zones, challenges led to completion of only 3,000 CHPS zones by then.  Now, more than 20 years after the initial trial, Ghana is re-launching the CHPS policy to elevate PHC as a priority and to expand the CHPS model to parts of the country that are not yet covered.[3]

The three broad areas of work by the CHO include basic primary health care issues such as promotion and prevention, management of minor or common ailment and their referrals and case detection, mobilization and referrals. Ghana Web reports that,[4] CHPS compounds cover all 8 essential PHC services and aim at helping ensure improved access to primary health care in these communities. For proper functioning of the various CHPS compounds, there is very strong community participation in the implementation.

The article reports that, “Where there is strong community participation, traditional leaders and community members provide resources, both financial and non-financial incentives, to support implementation of the program. A CHO is expected to work in partnership with the community, households and district assemblies to ensure that, citizens are able to access services and health information as and when they need them whereas the communities are expected to also exert some levels of answerability to health providers.”

The Upper West Region serves as an example of CHPS and CHOs implementation as reported by the Ghana News Agency.[5] There are 308 functional CPHS zones out of 361 planned which cover 62% of the population. The region had 364 CHOs in the 308 functioning zones and 305 active community committees, with 1,669 volunteers. Unfortunately, only 155 of the functioning CHPS zones were fully equipped to standard. A relaunch of CHPS will focus on performance guidelines, systems strengthening and quality of services

[1] Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS): The Operational Policy, Ghana Health Service, Policy Document No.20, May 2005.

[2] Emma Sacks, Soumya Alva, Sophia Magalona and Linda Vesel. Examining domains of community health nurse satisfaction and motivation: results from a mixed-methods baseline evaluation in rural Ghana. Sacks et al. Human Resources for Health (2015) 13:81, DOI 10.1186/s12960-015-0082-7

[3] John Koku Awoonor-Williams, Elisabeth Tadiri, and Hannah Ratcliffe . Translating research into practice to ensure community engagement for successful primary health care service delivery: The case of CHPS in Ghana.

[4] Gabriel Frimpong. The Community-Based Health Planning and Service (CHPS) concept in Ghana, Ghana Web. Tuesday, 24 April 2018.

[5] Prosper K. Kuorsoh, Upper West Region has 62 per cent CHPS coverage. Ghana News Agency. Thursday 9th August, 2018.

Community Based Health Insurance Can Fight Malaria

Community-Based Health Insurance (CBHI) is seen as a way to promote universal health coverage and protect vulnerable populations from catastrophic financial effects of illness. Malaria can be such an illness is not treated in a timely manner, and having insurance can help prevent delays.

In countries including Rwanda, Burkina Faso and Senegal a particular CBHI scheme known as mutuelles has taken root. For Rwanda USAID (2018) reports that …

The 2014–2015 DHS showed that insurance coverage has remained stable since the 2010DHS and that 79 percent of the households have at least one family member with health insurance and that among those insured 97 percent have community health insurance (mutuelles). Early ANC attendance is also encouraged by providing targeted SBCC, combined with innovative community- and facility-level performance-based financing and high enrollment in community health insurance schemes (mutuelles). The MoH, with the support of partners, has worked to improve the quality of services for case management at health facilities through training and capacity building efforts at national and district levels.

A study looked at health care seeking for children below 5years of age in Rwanda in 2005 to 2010 and found that, “In both years,under-five children with Mutuelles were more likely to use medical care than uninsured children. Children in 2010 had a higher probability of using medical care … regardless of the children’s poverty or Mutuelles status.” The study provides an example of how pre-payment CBHI can not only increase universal health coverage but also address challenges of equity (Mejía-Guevara et al., 2015).

Below is a chart showing the fee structure in Rwanda (Tashobya, 2017). [The trainer should ask participants about fees for CBHIs or other national health insurance schemes in their countries if such exist and how participation in CHBI helps achieve UHC.]

Fees in Rwanda’s community insurance scheme, Mutuelles                                  
Ubudehe/Social Category Annual Rwandan Francs per Household Member Approximate US Dollars
1 0 (Paid by government) 0
2 2,000 2.25
3 3,000 3.35
4 4,000 7.85

Now The East African reports that, “With more than 90 per cent of Rwandans covered under the community-based health insurance scheme locally known as Mutuelle de Santé, Rwanda is one of the few developing countries in the world that have successfully achieved universal healthcare” (Kagire, 2018) This was achieved by addressing enrollment, quality of cane and transferring management of the scheme to the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB). Now more than ever, no one needs to die from malaria in Rwanda.

  • Kagire, Edmund (2018). Rwanda Has Achieved Universal Healthcare. The East African. 15 December 2018.
  • Mejía-Guevara I, Hill K, Subramanian SV, Lu C. (2015). Service availability and association between Mutuelles and medical care usage for under-five children in rural Rwanda: a statistical analysis with repeated cross-sectional data. BMJ Open. 2015 Sep 8;5(9):e008814. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008814.
  • Tashobya, Athan (2017). Mutuelle Month: Govt targets 100% subscription. The New Times. Published : April 03, 2017.
  • USAID/President’s Malaria Initiative (2018) Rwanda Malaria Operational Plan FY19.

Climate Changes Many Things Including Malaria

Heavy rains, flooding and malaria

A changing climate, even a warming climate, does not directly translate into greater malaria transmission.[i] Lafferty and Mordecai explain that we need a need “a greater appreciation for the economic and environmental factors driving infectious diseases,” as these have their own impact on transmission.[ii] Climate change effects occur in parallel to “changes such as land conversion, urbanization, species assemblages, host movement, and demography.” This wider ecological understanding is needed to “predict which diseases are most likely to emerge where, so that public health agencies can best direct limited disease control resources.”

As the WHO framework for malaria elimination stresses, [iii] “Most countries have diverse transmission intensity, and factors such as ecology, immunity, vector behaviour, social factors and health system characteristics influence both the diversity of transmission and the effectiveness of tools, intervention packages and strategies in each locality.” The Framework goes further to encourage strategic planning and interventions appropriate for the diverse settings or strata within a country. What climate change implies is that the nature of malaria transmission in these strata will change as temperature, rainfall, humidity and human response change. Countries not only need to adapt malaria activities to existing strata, but also be alert to changes in transmission and thus changes needed in strategies.

Increased or decreased vector control activities would be one example of changes that are needed in response to climate, vector habitat and transmission changes. “The receptivity of an area (to vector control interventions) is not static but is affected by determinants such as environmental and climate factors.” Case detection will become even more crucial as transmission drops and the success of elimination programs depends on identifying, tracing and responding to remaining cases promptly and accurately.

The landscape for malaria control and elimination is shifting in part because of the success of interventions since the dawn of Roll Bank Malaria in 1998.  As we have shown here, there may also be shifts due to climate change. Of great concern is the shifts that expose new and more vulnerable populations, such as those in the East Africa highlands to the threat of malaria. National Malaria Programs need strong surveillance efforts that monitor disease, vectors and climate, and be ready to respond.

[Excerpted from Africa Health]

[i] World Health Organization. Climate change and health. Fact sheet. Updated July 2017.

[ii] Lafferty KD, Mordecai EA. The rise and fall of infectious disease in a warmer world. F1000Research 2016, 5(F1000 Faculty Rev):2040 last updated: 19 AUG 2016. (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.8766.1).

[iii] Global Malaria Program. A framework for malaria elimination. World Health Organization 2017, ISBN 978-92-4-151198-8.

A New Approach for provider performance improvement with Clinical and Quality Assurance Components in Moramanga, Madagascar

Norohaingo Andrianaivo, Eliane Razafimandimby, Jean Pierre Rakotovao, Marc Eric Rajaonarison Razakariasy, and Lalanirina Ravony share their presentation on ensuring standardized malaria in pregnancy service delivery in Madagascar. The poster was viewed at the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical

Malaria is endemic in 90% of Madagascar. However, the entire population is considered to be at risk for the disease, with pregnant women particularly vulnerable. Madagascar adopted the IPT in pregnancy policy in 2004.

The Malaria Indicator Survey in 2016 in Madagascar showed only 10% of Malagasy pregnant women receiving three doses of SP (IPT3). MCSP previously conducted health provider training in antenatal care in workshop style, with usually one provider per facility attending each training.

To increase the number of providers offering standardized service according to the new WHO recommendations for IPTp, in 2016 MCSP Madagascar began implementing a new low dose/high frequency training approach, with routine supportive supervision. On-site training and supportive supervision provide the opportunity for the trainer and providers to discuss the barriers to delivery of IPTp-SP.

Additionally, with the addition of a new IPTp indicator in the facility dashboard, the trainer/supervisor can monitor the indicator, and discuss plan of action with providers as needed. To date, in Moramanga District, 16 providers in six facilities have benefited from this performance improvement approach.

The qualitative and quantitative study of provider performance and results from January 2017 to May 2017 shows that Providers do follow the WHO’s new recommendations on IPT.  Adequate action plans were implemented to prevent SP stock out and to commit community health workers.

The increase of antenatal care utilization rate in these facilities. The IPT uptake increased This intervention is expected to show that IPT uptake and other maternal and newborn outcomes are improving in Madagascar.

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 or the United States Government.

Data use for malaria decision-making through data monitoring posters in Kribi Cameroon

Kodjo Morgah, Eric M. Tchinda, and Naibei Mbaïbardoum of Jhpiego based in Chad and Cameroon have been building the capacity of health workers to use malaria data to improve services. A summary of their experiences as seen below is being presented at the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Cameroon Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Cameroon, where an estimated 500,000 cases occur every year and led to 55% of hospitalizations and 241 deaths among pregnant women in 2010.

In order to measure the long-term impact of malaria prevention and treatment interventions at the facility level through outcome indicators, Jhpiego developed a data analysis process using an affiche de monitorage or data monitoring poster, which includes indicators on case management, suspected cases tested, intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women (IPTp) and use of long-lasting insecticide-treated net (LLINs).

Jhpiego and the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) with support from the ExxonMobil Foundation identified inadequate and irregular data collection and data use as a systemic problem throughout Kribi district. In response, Jhpiego developed and implemented training sessions on the data posters that focused on:

  • the context and rationale for this type of data visualization
  • techniques for data collection, analysis, and interpretation for decision-making, and
  • practical sessions enabling health providers to practice mapping data onto the posters

In September 2015, Jhpiego introduced the posters in 26 health facilities in Kribi that were already trained in malaria prevention and case management interventions. Jhpiego then provided blank copies of the data posters and supported sites via biannual supervision visits during which they reviewed data posters for accuracy against facility registers.

Furthermore, supervisors assessed facility’s progress on their objectives, identified gaps and their causes, and discussed corrective actions. As a result of Jhpiego’s efforts by June 2017, 61% of the trained facilities use the data poster for decision-making. With the introduction of the posters, the percentage of health facilities that did not experience stock shortages increased by 17 percentage points, from 21% in October 2016 to 38% in March 2017.

Additionally, the Ministry of Health requested Jhpiego to lead a training of 181 health administrators and providers aimed at scaling-up the use of the data posters across all 9 districts of the South Region of Cameroon.

The biggest risk of Ebola re-introduction is animals – the human variety

ebola virus ecologyIn the early days of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa much emphasis was placed on avoiding ‘bushmeat’. Health communications materials prominently featured monkeys, bats and deer (oh my!). In mid-2014 a Red Cross team went door to door in Kailahun province, the border region where Ebola first arrived in Sierra Leone on a sensitization mission, explaining to people exactly how the virus spreads and how to avoid it with three simple rules. “Rule three: Don’t eat bushmeat, the meat of wild animals.”

After thousands of deaths, it turns would that most likely only the December 2013 index case in the forests of Guinea was the only one that was associated with wild animals. The rest spread from human to human.

Liberia Ebola Free 20160609We are happy today that WHO has declared Liberia Ebola-free for the fourth time. With previous declarations from Guinea and Sierra Leone, the region does not have current transmission.

This is not a cause for letting down our guard. As Tolbert Nyenswah, head of Liberia’s Ebola response team, told Reuters, “the country had strengthened its surveillance and response capacity and its laboratory system since the start of the outbreak. We’ve proven we can contain the outbreak, we can intervene very swiftly,” said Nyenswah.

Science Daily reports from the University of Georgia, “Sexual transmission of Ebola is likely to impact course of outbreaks.” Data have shown that “viable Ebola virus remained in the semen of disease survivors for months after it was no longer detectable in their blood — and by a study reporting at least one instance of sexual transmission of Ebola.” Sexual transmission was hypothesized as “the source of Ebola transmission that killed a 17- year-old boy in Liberia” back in the summer of 2015 when another mini-outbreak occurred. As Annalisa Merelli reported, with the worst of the epidemic over, Ebola is essentially an STD.

Ebola is not the only tropical virus that has become an STD. While WHO notes that “Vector control is critical in substantially reducing the risk of Zika transmission … avoidance of unprotected sexual activity with a partner possibly exposed to Zika virus,” is also necessary. As of June 1st, 11 out of 618 cases of Zika reported to CDC in the U.S. were sexually transmitted.

The lines dividing zoonotic, infectious and sexually transmitted diseases are blurring. The common thread is the need for strong surveillance systems and proper communication of research findings so that the public can protect itself.

Year of the Monkey, Implications for Malaria

As human population expands and people move into once seemingly remote wilderness, there is greater contact between people and various animals and the greater chance for the spread of zoonotic disease. The West African Ebola outbreak is a case in point.[i] Now as the Lunar Year of the Monkey has begun, it is an important time to highlight the potential of shared disease between humans and their primate cousins.


image001The most widely known form of malaria that people acquire from monkeys occurs in Southeast Asia, Plasmodium knowlesi. The blame has been laid squarely on the shoulders of deforestation caused by human expansion into what was previously the primary domain of macaque monkeys. The discovery of the parasite is credited to Giuseppe Franchini in 1927[ii]. Published studies in English date back to the late 1930s.[iii],[iv] and for the next seven decades the primary focus of most research was on the effect on monkeys themselves as well as use of the parasite to model human disease.


African primates have been implicated in malaria transmission also. Researchers working in Gabon foundPlasmodium falciparum, the most common species of malaria in Africa in the greater spot-nosed monkey (Cercopithecus nictitans).[v] Today wild chimpanzees and gorillas throughout central Africa are endemically infected with parasites that are closely related to human P. vivax, with the implication that, “All extant human P. vivax parasites are derived from a single ancestor that escaped out of Africa.” [vi]


Duval and colleagues studied malaria in chimpanzees and gorillas in Cameroon. They found that, “One chimpanzeePlasmodium strain was genetically identical, on all three markers tested, to variant P. ovale type,” found in humans.[vii]Again in Cameroon, Duval and co-researchers identified samples of Plasmodium species in gorillas and chimpanzees that related to Plasmodium falciparum.[viii]


As long as the potential for zoonotic malaria transmission from primates to humans exists along with the potential for adaptation of such parasites to humans and subsequent transmission among humans, our goals of eliminating malaria as a human disease by 2030 are at risk.[ix] Ironically it is human activity that heightens this risk.


To date it does not appear that primate to human malaria transmission is occurring in Africa. Unlike the Plasmodium knowlesi situation Southeast Asia, “African apes harboring parasites do not seem to serve as a recurrent source of human malaria.” This is an important finding and potential reprieve for ongoing control and eradication measures in Africa.[x]


In a broader context Faust and Dobson explain that, “The diversity and distribution of primate malaria are an essential prerequisite to understanding the mechanisms and circumstances that allow Plasmodium to jump species barriers, both in the evolution of malaria parasites and current cases of spillover into humans,”[xi] implying it is not a matter of if humans and primates might share malaria disease in Africa, but when it will happen on the scale seen in Southeast Asia.


[i] Pigott DM, Golding N, Mylne A, Huang Z, Henry AJ, Weiss DJ, Brady OJ, Kraemer MUG, Smith DL, Moyes CL, Bhatt S, Gething PW, Horby PW, Bogoch II, Brownstein JS, Mekaru SR, Tatem AJ, Khan K, Hay SI. Mapping the zoonotic niche of Ebola virus disease in Africa. eLife 2014;10.7554/eLife.04395.

[ii] Franchini G (1927) Su di un plasmodio pigmentato di una scimmia (On a pigmented plasmodium of a monkey). Arch Ital Sci Med Colon 8:187–90.

[iii] Coggeshall LT and Kumm HW. Effect of repeated superinfection upon the potency of immune serum of monkeys harboring chronic infections of Plasmodium knowlesi. J Exp Med. 1938 Jun 30; 68(1): 17–27.

[iv] Eaton MD, Coggeshall LT. Complement fixation in human malaria with an antigen prepared from the monkey parasitePlasmodium knowlesi. J Exp Med. 1939 Feb 28;69(3):379-98.

[v] F.Prugnolle, B.Ollomo, P.Durand, E.Yalcindag, C.Arnathau, E.Elguero, A.Berry, X.Pourrut, J-P.Gonzalez, D.Nkoghe, J.Akiana, D.Verrier, E.Leroy, F.J.Ayala and F.Renaud. African monkeys are infected by Plasmodium falciparum nonhuman primate-specific strains. PNAS, 4 July 2011

[vi] Liu W, Li Y, Shaw KS, et al. African origin of the malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax. Nature Communications. 2014; 5:3346, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4346,

[vii] Duval L, Nerrienet E, Rousset D, Sadeuh Mba SA, Houze S, et al. (2009) Chimpanzee Malaria Parasites Related to Plasmodium ovale in Africa. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5520. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005520

[viii] Duval L, Fourment M, Nerrienet E, Rousset D, Sadeuh SA, Goodman SM, Andriaholinirina NV, Randrianarivelojosia M, Paul RE, Robert V, Ayalak FJ, Ariey F. African apes as reservoirs of Plasmodium falciparum and the origin and diversification of the Laverania subgenus. PNAS 2010; 107(23):

[ix] Ouma C. How can we defeat malaria by 2030? World Economic Forum. Friday 11 September 2015. (accessed 2016-02-20)

[x] Sundararaman SA, Liu W, Keele BF, Learn GH, Bittinger K, Mouacha F, Ahuka-Mundeke S, Manske M, Sherrill-Mix S, Li Y, Malenke JA, Delaporte E, Laurent C, Mpoudi Ngole E, Kwiatkowski DP, Shaw GM, Rayner JC, Peeters M, Sharp PM, Bushman FD, Hahn BH. Plasmodium falciparum-like parasites infecting wild apes in southern Cameroon do not represent a recurrent source of human malaria. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2013; 110(17): 7020-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1305201110.

[xi] Faust C and Dobson AP. Primate malarias: Diversity, distribution and insights for

zoonotic Plasmodium. One Health 2015 1:66–75.