April 25, 2019

Towards Zero Malaria: MCDI Celebrates World Malaria Day 2019

Children participating in ARM3 outreach activities in Benin.

On World Malaria Day 2019, the world is declaring "Zero malaria starts with me." MCDI, as a leader in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria, is standing with this statement — Zero malaria starts with all of us, and MCDI is aiding individuals, organizations and governments alike in their quest to eliminate malaria. According to the World Health Organization, in 2017 there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 87 countries, with no significant gains made in reducing malaria cases between 2015 and 2017. Despite this setback, the global community is poised to make strides towards reducing the global malaria burden through innovative solutions and the mobilization of additional local and international resources. During the past year, MCDI has been able to contribute to this mission through several of its hallmark projects.

Impacting malaria globally

At the beginning of 2018, MCDI, on a team led by PSI, was awarded the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) Impact Malaria project — a global, $163 million, five-year project which will be implemented in up to 27 countries in Africa and three countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion. The project began in June of 2018, and MCDI, as the diagnostics technical lead for 11 African countries, leads the project's activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

Since its launch, Impact Malaria has been able to connect directly with local National Malaria Control Programs to provide implementation support and technical assistance on behalf of PMI. With MCDI's support, the project team has been able to execute malaria diagnostic refresher trainings (MDRTs) for laboratory technicians, as well as training of trainers (TOT) workshops to empower experienced laboratory technicians with the ability to train others. By improving malaria diagnostic capacity, Impact Malaria is improving service delivery for those infected with malaria.

Bioko Island — a proving ground for malaria elimination

In 2019, the Bioko Island Malaria Control Program (BIMCP) and the Equatorial Guinea Malaria Vaccine Initiative (EGMVI) united under the comprehensive Bioko Island Malaria Elimination Project (BIMEP). The project aims to eliminate malaria from Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea through the delivery of Sanaria's PfSPZ vaccine (which can confer up to 100% protection) and effective malaria control measures such as indoor residual spraying, bed net distribution and social behavior change.

Since the inception of the BIMCP in 2004, the malaria prevalence has dropped from 45% to 12.5%, but reaching zero will require innovative solutions such as these large-scale clinical trials. With its funding partners (the Government of Equatorial Guinea, Marathon Oil, Noble Energy, and a consortium of other oil and gas companies), MCDI is working towards a Bioko Island without malaria as a proving ground for the effectiveness that such a combination of interventions can achieve.

The BIMEP team will be celebrating World Malaria Day across the island with a new video that will be broadcast across the country throughout the day celebrating 15 years of malaria control on Bioko Island, radio and television appearances by in-country experts, and conducting educational activities to continue to inform the public about measures they can take to prevent malaria from spreading.

Improving malaria care infrastructure in Gabon

Since 2017, MCDI has worked in southern Gabon to improve the infrastructure for malaria diagnosis and treatment in rural Nyanga Province. The Improved Integrated Maternal and Neonatal Survival through Malaria and HIV/AIDS Prevention project in Gabon, funded by Noble Energy, aims to improve the quality of care for maternal and neonatal patients in health facilities throughout the region through refurbished health facilities, bed net distribution, provision of preventative treatment in pregnancy, as well as improving diagnosis and treatment of malaria for pregnant women and children. This World Malaria Day, MCDI is distributing over 7,000 bed nets throughout Nyanga Province to mark the occasion and prevent the transmission of malaria.

Since its inception, project staff have been able to conduct malaria case management trainings to health providers, renovate several health facilities, and, in February 2019 distribute 1,069 boxes of antimalarial drugs, rapid diagnostic tests, and other basic supplies to remote hospitals and health centers where these medicines were previously unavailable.

Using digital data to improve malaria diagnosis in Guinea

Under the PMI StopPalu+ project in Guinea, led by RTI International, MCDI serves as the diagnostic partner training health workers on malaria diagnostics through laboratory testing, the most accurate and precise way to diagnose malaria and the most valuable in terms of tracking the spread of different species of malaria parasite. MCDI's work includes training of trainers (TOT) in laboratory and rapid diagnostics, testing the competency of, supervising, and certifying laboratory technicians, as well as leading internal and external quality assurance of malaria microscopy. MCDI has also developed specialized training materials, hands-on practice sessions, and job aids related to routine microscope care and basic maintenance to extend the useful life of laboratory equipment.

MCDI is using an innovative and helpful tool adapted from past experiences to support Outreach, Training and Supportive Supervision (OTSS) activities that are conducted four to six weeks after each training session to ensure the accuracy of malaria microscopy diagnosis at health facilities in Guinea. With a tablet-based questionnaire completed through mobile-based platform SurveyCTO, StopPalu+ is developing digital solutions to improve malaria case management in selected regions of Guinea.

Reducing the burden of malaria in Benin

September 2018 marked the end of the PMI Accelerating the Reduction of Malaria Morbidity and Mortality (ARM3) project in Benin, which, through its seven years of implementation saw several remarkable achievements. This included the distribution of over 12.3 million bed nets, the total percentage of suspected malaria cases properly diagnosed increasing from 64.2% in 2011 to 93.7% in 2017, and the number of pregnant women receiving at least two doses of vital preventive medicine triple.

MCDI developed several documents to communicate the impact of ARM3, found on our "Resources" page, and debuted a documentary film "Reducing Malaria Morbidity and Mortality in Benin — the ARM3 Story," which features Beninese citizens directly impacted by ARM3's work. MCDI's malaria work continues in Benin expanding on the work of ARM3 in bringing the private health sector into a fully accountable and government regulated body through the USAID/PMI Private Sector Health Partnership Activity, which aims to strengthen Beninese capacity to manage reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) services, including the prevention of malaria in pregnant women and children under five.

ARM3 booth during World Malaria Day event in on April 25, 2018.

Malaria diagnostics training in Gabon.

Use of OTSS tool during supervision visit in Guinea.

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