Information and stories about malaria.

maternal mortality mozambiqueMaternal health in Mozambique is a constant concern as the nation’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. While some progress has been made, there is still much that needs to be done to ensure that mothers in Mozambique have to access high-quality healthcare. Recently, two initiatives have been created, the Mozambique-Canada Maternal Health Project and a project by the Maternal and Child Survival Program. They are working to improve maternal health in Mozambique.

The Current State of Maternal Health

In 2015, the maternal mortality rate was 489 deaths per 100,000 live births. Approximately one-fifth of these deaths are women under the age of 20. Maternal mortality has declined since 1990 when there were approximately 1390 deaths per 100,000 live births; however, maternal deaths remain high. It is clear that continued efforts are needed to improve the quality of maternal health in Mozambique. Each day, approximately 800 pregnant women die from preventable causes.

One of the primary factors determining maternal mortality rates is the availability of antenatal care. In regions where more women receive four or more antenatal visits, the maternal mortality rate is generally lower. Globally, 62 percent of pregnant women have at least four antenatal visits with a skilled health professional, while 86 percent of women have at least one. In Mozambique, only 51 percent of expectant mothers have at least four antenatal visits.

Additionally, only 54 percent of births are attended by skilled health personnel. Age is also a factor, with 40 percent of women 20-24 years old reporting that they gave birth before the age of 18. Younger mothers have an increased risk of death during childbirth, particularly if there is not someone with medical training present.

Early marriage logically leads to childbirth at a younger age and improving maternal mortality rates in the nation relies on protecting young women. In response to this, the government of Mozambique created the National Strategy to Prevent and Combat Early Marriage in 2016. This program includes better education about sexual and reproductive rights with the goal of empowering women to seek out appropriate care and understand their legal rights. For poorer women, this knowledge is often not enough, however, as they may not have the autonomy to make a legal case or have a healthcare facility readily available to them.

Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP)

The Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) has launched a project in Mozambique’s Zambézia Province focused on treating pregnant women with malaria. Malaria currently accounts for 9.6 percent of deaths in the nation, and the rate in the Zambézia Province higher than the average. This project seeks to improve maternal health in Mozambique by tackling maternal and newborn deaths due to malaria.

Malaria during pregnancy has many consequences, including higher rates of maternal anemia and low birthweight babies. These factors increase the likelihood of maternal death as well as stillbirth. A treatment known as IPTs-SP exists that can prevent malaria in expectant mothers, but fewer than 22 percent of women in Mozambique receive adequate dosages during their pregnancy.

The MCSP project is empowering healthcare providers in Mozambique to treat malaria cases in pregnant women regardless of their complexity. For example, a young pregnant woman who had malaria but was also HIV-positive could not receive IPTp-SP treatments because the drug is incompatible with her HIV treatment. However, a different medication was able to be prescribed by an MCSP-trained nurse who had been trained on how to handle a variety of malaria cases.

The project also implemented a Standards-Based Management and Recognition for Malaria program in 58 health facilities in the Zambézia Province. This program is working to collect better data about malaria cases and more effectively implement initiatives for prevention and treatment.

Mozambique-Canada Maternal Health Project

Improving maternal health in Mozambique is a priority for the University of Saskatchewan as well. Researchers from the university are working with Mozambique’s health ministry and the NGO Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) to empower women in 20 different communities through the Mozambique-Canada Maternal Health Project.

Education is a key piece to this project, providing information on maternal, reproductive and sexual health to community members in a way that is participatory and engaging for adolescents and adults. The project is also prioritizing the education of health practitioners to improve the quality of care for mothers in Mozambique.

Additionally, the project seeks to improve resources in the community that can improve maternal and newborn health. They intend to provide local ambulances, establish maternal waiting homes nearby to clinics and support local midwives. The latter is the most important, as having locals who are trained health personnel can greatly benefit rural women who may not have the time or financial resources (particularly in situations of poverty) to travel to a clinic.

These efforts indicate that maternal health in Mozambique is continuing to be a priority. The work that these organizations are doing is focused on empowering women to make their own decisions about their sexual and reproductive lives, ensuring health personnel are properly trained and accessible and meeting the needs of poorer women.

Sara Olk

Photo: Flickr

Reducing Malaria in Liberia
The Republic of Liberia, located on the western coast of Africa and bordered by Sierra Leone and Guinea, has a population of 4.7 million people. About 50 percent of the population, or 2.35 million people, fall below the national poverty line, meaning that they have less than $2.00 a day on their disposal.

Liberia Health Care System

Liberia’s health care system suffered a lot after a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003. Almost 95 percent of doctors were lost or were forced out of the country after the war, leaving staff shortages throughout the nation, and hospitals and other health care services were confined to the capital city of Monrovia. Organizations such as Hospitals of Hope that donated $1.1 million worth of medical supplies to the JFK Hospital, helped Liberia’s health care system recover after the civil war.

Malaria in Liberia

Although Liberia’s health care system continues to improve, the civil war left the country susceptible to many communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses and malaria. Malaria is the number one cause of inpatient death in Liberia, accounting for 44 percent of all inpatient deaths among children. In 2016, the prevalence of malaria parasitemia in children under the age of 5 was on average 45 percent. This number is even higher in some areas in the country, reaching levels over 60 percent.

President’s Malaria Initiative

In order to reduce malaria in Liberia, USAID works with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to implement the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). PMI first started in 2005 as a five-year program, intending to reduce malaria in Liberia by 50 percent. However, after 14 years and a 70 percent decrease in malaria, PMI created a new strategy for the period from 2015 to 2020, having in mind recent progress that was achieved. The current PMI strategy has a long-term goal of complete malaria elimination.

In Liberia, PMI supports four different malaria prevention and treatment methods: diagnosing and treating malaria, supplying citizens with Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs), preventing and managing malaria during pregnancy and monitoring malaria outbreaks. PMI also supports the Liberian Ministry of Health (MOH) after Ebola outbreaks.

When it comes to treating malaria in Liberia, every little detail counts. In April 2017, a PMI warehouse used to store medications and medical supplies caught on fire, so USAID quickly transferred these supplies to the remaining warehouse. The result was a consolidated, centralized warehouse that made security and transportation cheaper and easier. This is just one example of how USAID and PMI are logistically jointly working to reduce malaria in Liberia. The goal of PMI in the following years is to reduce malaria-related illnesses and deaths by another 50 percent. Other goals for the benchmark year 2020 include:

  • Increasing prompt diagnosis and effective treatment by 85 percent
  • Ensuring that 80 percent of the population is protected from malaria
  • Teaching up to 95 percent of the population to the preventive measures

Since 2003, Liberia has been slowly recovering from the detrimental civil wars, and episodes of malaria, an illness that is still a lingering issue in the country, have greatly decreased. With help from organizations and programs such as USAID and PMI, the country can continue to progress in this fight until malaria in Liberia is finally gone for good.

– Natalie Dell

Photo: Flickr

Malaria, the number one killer of children in underdeveloped countries
Malaria is a devastating disease that occurs mostly in tropical and subtropical environments in areas around the world. Malaria is the number one killer of children in underdeveloped countries and is often responsible for the child mortality rates of children under the age of five. Failure to eradicate this disease in these countries is a result of poverty, scarce resources and socio-economic instability. In regions like Africa, mainly south of the Sahara region, those are of the major causes of the continued spread of this devastating disease, creating a noticeable link between malaria and poverty in underdeveloped countries

Malaria in Underdeveloped Countries

Malaria is the number one killer of children in underdeveloped countries. Children who contract severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the following symptoms: severe anemia, respiratory malfunction and cerebral malaria. In areas where transmission is higher, children under the age of five are more susceptible to infection and death, with more than 70% of all malaria deaths falling into this group. Even though the number of malaria deaths within this age group had decreased by 155,00 in 2016, malaria remains the major cause of death for children under five years of age, ending a life every two minutes.

Malaria occurs when climate and other conditions suddenly favor transmission to areas where people have no immunity to malaria. They can also occur when people with low or no immunity move into areas of intense malaria transmission, for example, refugees and those looking for work. Human immunity plays a very important factor, especially in areas of moderate and intense transmission conditions. Partial immunity can be developed through the years, and while it never provides complete protection, can reduce the risk of infection. However, children under the age of five have not had the chance to build any kind of immunity because they have not been exposed to the disease.

The High Cost of Malaria

Malaria is directly related to poverty and economic inequality in underdeveloped countries due to the exponential costs that these countries must face by both individuals and governments. Costs include the purchase of necessary medication, treatment, maintenance, supply and staffing of trained personnel in health facilities, lost days of work with resulting loss of income, burial expenses and the overall loss of economic opportunities ventures through tourism during an outbreak.

Direct costs for illness, treatment and premature death are estimated to be at least $12 billion per year. Total funding for malaria control and elimination was only $2.7 billion in 2016, but this amount is not enough to eradicate the program to its completion. In order to hit the 2030 target from the WHO, an investment of $6,5 billion will be required annually by 2020. Which may be a problem because, on average since 2014, investments in malaria treatment and control have actually been declining in many highly affected countries.

Investing in the Eradication of Malaria

The level of progress in a specific country depends on the strength of that country’s national health system, the level of investment of the disease control and a number of factors including biological determinants, like the environment and the social, demographic, political and economic factors in a particular country.

Some of the challenges in trying to eradicate malaria include the lack of sustainable and predictable international and domestic funding, risks posed by countries in endemic areas, anomalous climate patterns, the emergence of parasite resistance to anti-malaria medicines and mosquito resistance to insecticides and other substances used for eradication and control purposes. In the 41 high-burden countries, malaria funding often remains below $2 per person.

All of these factors contribute to the reversal in recent progress of the eradication and continued treatment of the disease. Many high burden but low-income countries have reported reducing the funding per capita for the population at risk of malaria. For example, the complex situation of Nigeria, South Sudan, Venezuela and Yemen have all resulted in the interruption of services and increasing instances of malaria.

The Sucess of the Global Fund

The Global Fund response to malaria has been very successful, but it presents many future challenges in the battle of eradicating this disease. Between 2002 and 2017, the Global Fund has provided more than half of all international financing for malaria, investing $10.5 billion in programs aimed at controlling the disease in more than 100 countries. The approach targets several areas, such as education about symptoms, prevention and treatment; prevention methods like mosquito nets,  insecticides and preventive treatment for children and pregnant women and diagnosis.

The Global Fund works with at-risk communities by providing training and treatment to stop the disease. They provide information about what malaria is, how it is transmitted, what treatments are available and, most importantly, what action to take if malaria is detected. In Ghana, for example, village elders educate their community “not to let the sun set twice” on a child with a fever.

Malaria is a devastating disease that affects everyone but presents a higher risk in children under the age of five especially in areas like the sub-Saharan region in Africa. There is a noticeable link between Malaria and poverty in underdeveloped countries. The efforts to eradicate this disease have been enormous, but the lack of funding, the disease’s immunity to drugs and insecticides, the socio and economic instability of the governments of some of these countries and the lack of training and information about the disease present major challenges to the successful eradication of the disease. Investing must continue. Hopefully, the work of organizations such as the Global Fund will ensure a future without Malaria.

Mayra Vega
Photo: Flickr

Malaria in Uganda
More than 10,500 people die from malaria in Uganda annually. The country also has one of the highest rates of transmission and mortality rates due to malaria. Uganda has been described as a malaria-endemic country due to the particular hold the disease has on the area. Globally, Ugandans are one of the top five populations at risk for malaria. Malaria has been a serious health issue for decades and several measures have been taken to lessen the burden of the disease. The government of Uganda is working with several organizations to reduce the spread of malaria in Uganda.

The Uganda Malaria Strategic Plan

The Uganda Malaria Reduction Strategic Plan was implemented in 2014. The goals of the plan include reducing the mortality rate from malaria to almost zero by 2020, reducing the morbidity rate by nearly 80 percent by 2020 and reducing the malaria prevalence of the parasite to 7 percent by 2020. Their strategy is to quickly provide the general population with means of malaria control and prevention.

The plan has had great progress so far, the prevalence of malaria in the country has decreased from 42 percent in 2009 down to 19 percent in 2018, and deaths from malaria in Uganda have been cut in half. Although the plan has done well to ensure facilities are well stocked and prevention measures are taken, some are still receiving inadequate care.

Funding to Eradicate Malaria

The Uganda Malaria Reduction Strategic plan is being implemented by the government’s Ministry of Health and supported by organizations such as the Global Fund and USAID. The plan provides details of its budget and where that money will be implemented. It is projected that the six-year plan will require $1,316,700.

These funds come from organizations like USAID and Global Fund and are used in each phase of the structure of the plan. The phases include but are not limited to ensuring access to malaria treatments and prevention methods, increasing the community’s knowledge surrounding the disease, increasing the treatment of malaria during pregnancy and strengthening the detection and response to this epidemic.

Problems at the Local Level

One of the problems is that some people are receiving the wrong treatment and care. The Moroto Regional Referral Hospital discovered that some patients were being treated for malaria despite negative test results. USAID’s Uganda Health Supply Chain Program has taken steps to change these incorrect medical practices and provide training to improve medical practices at Moroto Hospital.

Their steps have had an impact. The testing rate rose from 45 percent to 86 percent, and the number of patients mistakenly receiving treatment without a positive test result decreased from 31 percent to 9 percent. Other hospitals heard of the success at Moroto Hospital and have expressed interest in undertaking similar policies.

The future for the battle against malaria in Uganda is bright. Uganda won an award in January of 2017 for their significant progress in fighting malaria. The African Leaders Malaria Alliance recognized Uganda and 7 other countries for striving towards a malaria-free Africa. With local governments, leaders and aid organizations working together, permanent progress can be made. The country has already made great strides in their fight against malaria and there is optimism for a malaria-free future in Uganda.

– Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Flickr

Private Sector Key to Eliminating Malaria in Cambodia
Having already made substantial progress in the effort to eradicate malaria, Cambodia is one of the 17 countries in Southeast Asia looking to continue finding solutions to this problem and putting an end to this disease by 2025. The strategy of eliminating malaria in Cambodia hinges on a joint effort between the public sector and the private sector. With proposed solutions made by this collaboration, Cambodia is on the road to eliminating the disease by its projected period.

Malaria in Cambodia Numbers

In Cambodia, 1 million people become infected with malaria every year. Despite this high number of infections, there has been substantial progress made in working to find solutions to eradicating malaria. For example, in 2015, Youyou Tu received The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of artemisinin, a type of anti-malarial medicine that is being used today.

While efforts have been made in eradicating malaria in Cambodia, there is still a lot that needs to be done in order to achieve this goal. Of the 1 million people who become affected by malaria, around 1.5 percent and 10 percent of people that are located in distant provinces die. The parasite responsible for these deaths is the Plasmodium falciparum. To prevent the occurrence and spread of this disease, early intervention with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is the key. Yet, distribution of antimalarial medicines remains a challenge. While there are immediate and positive effects of ACT therapy, many people are not able to receive this medicine.

PSI/Cambodia

One organization that working on ending malaria in Cambodia is Population Services International/Cambodia (PSI/Cambodia). The purpose of this initiative is to work on health issues caused by HIV/AIDS, malaria and reproductive health of women who are going to give birth. In 2003, a program of PSI/Cambodia started to offer malaria treatment with the help of private clinics, pharmacies and shops in many parts of rural Cambodia. Of total Cambodia’s population, the poor are particularly at risk of getting the disease. As shown by this initiative, the private sector remains crucial for ending malaria in Cambodia.

Solutions to Ending Malaria in Cambodia

To meet the need for antimalarial medicines, the Global Fund, an international partnership organization, has proposed some essential solutions by the public sector working with the private sector for eradicating malaria in Cambodia. The first is to make sure there is access to effective antimalarial medicines that the private sector provides. This proposal also means the dispose of fake antimalarial drugs that are currently in the market. In addition, this means also the disposal of antimalarial drugs that do not meet the national guidelines.

Secondly, the report of the Global Fund urges organizations in the private sector to make sure they provide effective diagnostic testing. Lastly, the Global Fund recommends that there is widespread access to affordable antimalarial medicines for eradicating malaria in Cambodia, in order to allow for those living on less than $1.25 a day to purchase afford this life-saving treatment.

One way to achieve these proposals is subsidizing antimalarial medicines in order to allow consumers to be able to buy them. Another way to increase distribution of antimalarial medicine is through social marketing. In addition to making sure there is an effective treatment at a cost that people can afford, these same two strategies can be used for diagnostic testing.

With much progress having been made to end malaria in Cambodia, there is room for more improvement in order to reach the goal of eradicating the disease by 2025. With more joint effort between the public sector and private sector through subsidizing prices of antimalarial medicine, Cambodia can move one step closer to eradicating malaria.

– Daniel McAndrew-Greiner
Photo: Flickr

Florence
It’s no coincidence that there is a new natural disaster in the news every day around the world — the earthquake and tsunami that just hit Indonesia; Typhoon Mangkhut in East Asia; Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas; monsoon flooding in Bangladesh; and Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle are just a few of the storms that saturate our daily media sources.

Scientists agree that rising sea levels and sea temperatures as a result of climate change are increasing the frequency and intensity of such disasters. Research shows that climate-change-related natural disasters will disproportionately affect the world’s poorest countries and citizens. These environmental events are just one example of the many ways that sea changes are hurting the world’s poor.

Rising Sea Levels Hurt Agriculture

According to a 2015 World Bank report, “agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors in many poor countries. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most sensitive to climate change, given its dependence on weather conditions: from temperature, sun and rain, through climate-dependent stressors (pests, epidemics, and sea level rise).” This effect is felt by farmers — usually the poorer citizens of poor countries — who find their livelihoods threatened by natural disasters and the heavy flooding that wipes out their crops.

When agriculture suffers, the price of food skyrockets. This change then leaves families who already struggle to acquire adequate nutrition in an even more dire situation. Statistics show that poor families already spend a huge percentage of their income on food, and the World Bank predicts there may be 73 million people pushed into extreme poverty by 2030 from the rising costs of food alone.

Rising Sea Temperatures Breed Disease

The World Bank report says a small rise in sea temperatures “could increase the number of people at risk for malaria by up to 5 percent, or more than 150 million more people affected. Diarrhea would be more prevalent, and increased water scarcity would have an effect on water quality and hygiene.”

People who don’t have access to clean water, generally people living in poverty, would be at the greatest risk of developing diseases and they often lack the resources to treat infectious or bug-borne diseases once a family member is infected. The report, which called for climate-informed development, concludes by saying that poverty reduction and climate change can’t be treated separately, as the two go hand-in-hand.

Refugees

There are over 1600 confirmed deaths in Indonesia after an earthquake and tsunami hit the island of Sulawesi on October 5th, 2018. In fact, the U.N. stated that over 190,000 people are in need of urgent help — aftershocks have caused the destruction of 2,000 homes due to mudslides and makeshift refugee camps are being set up. At the most basic level, these events are pushing already poor people into extreme poverty through the destruction of their homes, forcing them to resettle elsewhere.

A 2017 Cornell study found that rising seas could cause 2 billion refugees by the year 2100 (these are truly climate change refugees).  This means that around one-fifth of the world’s population will be made homeless by climate change. The effects will be felt most strongly by people living on coastlines, and those in the world’s poorest countries will suffer the most.

As the seas warm and rise, research shows that the frequency and intensity of these disasters will rise as well, forcing more and more people to abandon their homes.

Sea Changes and the Poor

Rising sea temperatures are a result of global warming’s effects on ocean habitats and the human communities that depend on them.

The authors of an article about how poor countries and fisheries are the most negatively impacted by warming seas found that, “despite having some of the world’s smallest carbon footprints, small island developing states and the world’s least-developed countries will be among the places most vulnerable to climate change’s impacts on marine life.”

Actions for the Future

Andrew King, a climate researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia and the author of a study from the AGU on global warming, argues that: “The results are a stark example of the inequalities that come with global warming…the richest countries that produced the most emissions are the least affected by heat when average temperatures climb to just 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit] while poorer nations bear the brunt of changing local climates and the consequences that come with them.”

There are ideas for how to better protect these places in the future to be prepared for these sea changes. Long term, the solution will be tackling climate change head-on.

-Evann Orleck-Jetter

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Despite its abundance of valuable natural resources, including copper and oil, as well as a picturesque landscape that once drew wealthy tourists from around the world, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been plagued by political instability, leaving the Congolese people struggling to survive. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in The Democratic Republic of Congo

  1. Since acquiring the presidency following his father’s assassination in 2001, Joseph Kabila has followed the recent trend in accumulating wealth for himself and his constituents while ignoring the desperation the majority of his country endures. Nearly 50 percent of the DRC’s wealth belongs to the top 20 percent of its citizens while the bottom 20 percent has only 5-6 percent of the wealth.
  2. Almost 65 percent of people living in the DRC fall below the poverty line. This number has been decreasing in recent years; however, it still places the country near the very bottom of the list of wealthy nations.
  3. While the DRC has been trending towards urbanization in recent decades, more than 60 percent of the Congolese people still reside in small, tribal communities that have been regularly targeted by armed rebel militias. Raids by these militias have forced residents from their homes for fear of their lives, leaving many to seek refuge in displacement camps, such as The Mugunga III camp in the North Kivu province, whose lack of security has made it a target for militias to raid in search of resources.
  4. The DRC has one of the highest birthrates in the world with an average of 6.6 children per mother, which has led to an increasing shortage of food. Roughly 70 percent of the Congolese people lack adequate access to food and 23 percent of children are malnourished. Groups like Actions Against Hunger are working to provide food, household items and healthcare to displaced populations in the north.
  5. The infant mortality rate in the DRC is one of the highest in the world due to a lack of accessibility to hospitals and doctors. Because so many people are without health care, the infants who do survive often go unvaccinated until later in life. However, in recent years, these trends have shown improvement with the infant mortality rate dropping from 15 percent to 10 percent and vaccination rates increasing from 31 percent to 45 percent for children under 24 months of age.
  6. Despite Kabila’s efforts to block foreign aid to the DRC for fear that it will deter investors from putting money into his country’s industries, The U.N. has not slowed down in its effort to provide support. In April of 2018, The U.N. held a donor conference with the goal of raising 1.7 billion dollars to provide food, shelter and medical attention to the Congolese people.
  7. In October of 2017, The United Nations placed the DRC on its Level 3 emergency list, the highest recognition of crisis, due to unacceptable living conditions that roughly 4.5 million Congolese people have had to endure.
  8. Despite malaria being one of the DRC’s most prominent health crises, constituting nearly 20 percent of deaths for children under five years of age, groups such as The World Health Organization are working to promote prevention, education and treatment to combat malaria and other diseases.
  9. Life expectancy in the DRC is 48 years for men and 52 for women. Comparatively, life expectancy in the U.S. is 76 years for men and 81 for women. The top causes of death include treatable conditions such as malaria, respiratory infection and diarrheal diseases.
  10. Due to increasing pressure from the Congolese people, foreign aid groups and leaders of other countries threatening sanctions against the DRC, the Congolese government has increased its health budget by nearly five percent from 2011 to 2015.

Despite these top 10 facts about living conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo revealing a history plagued by political corruption, disease and a lack of accessibility to basic resources, the DRC currently finds itself in a transitional period that could begin to reverse much of the damage that has been done.

Kabila announced in August 2018 that he will no longer seek reelection and will relinquish his presidency at the close of his term. This opens the door for a leader whose intentions lie not in personal gain, but rather in rebuilding the DRC’s economy, providing health care, access to basic resources to the people and restoring the country to a position of growth and stability.

– Rob Lee
Photo: Pixabay

Top Malaria NonprofitsMalaria is the most deadly disease facing the world’s poor today. In 2016, roughly 445,000 people died due to malaria, and the illness still remains in 91 countries and threatens half of the world’s population. The fight against malaria is far from over, and many nonprofits are still working on achieving a world without malaria. Here are five of the top malaria nonprofits to be aware. 

Malaria No More  

Malaria No More (MNM) launched in 2006 alongside the President’s Malaria Initiative. The goal of the organization is to create “a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite.” MNM aims to end malaria by mobilizing advocates and securing funding to combat malaria. Their work focuses on three countries, including Kenya.

MNM started work in Kenya in 2014, and their work’s focus is to protect pregnant women and babies who are both at a higher risk for contracting malaria than any other populations. In Kenya, MNM partners with several other nonprofits to make malaria a top political priority. MNM also spreads awareness about malaria through meetings with politicians and events with celebrities.

As a result of MNM’s work, roughly 1,800 mothers and pregnant women received mosquito nets, two Kenyan counties increased funding for malaria elimination and millions of people received information on malaria treatment and prevention via radio.

The International Committee of the Red Cross

Another one of the many nonprofits combating malaria is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Since its inception in 1863, the goal of ICRC is to assist victims of war and poverty. Since malaria threatens so many impoverished nations, the organization aids in combating malaria.

The ICRC also focuses on encouraging and assisting communities to band together and fight malaria. In 2008, the organization and its partners distributed 60,000 nets to Burkina Faso and helped educate its people on the importance of nets and how to hang them properly.

The President’s Malaria Initiative

The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) started in 2006 with the goal of reducing the malaria death rate by 50 percent. The PMI offers several services to the people of sub-Saharan Africa, including insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying, intermittent preventative treatments for pregnant women, and seasonal chemoprevention treatments.

Since the formation of the PMI, more than 5 million houses received an indoor residual spraying, which protects more than 20 million people. The PMI also distributed 40 million treated nets. Overall, the malaria rate in sub-Saharan Africa dropped 54 percent in the past 17 years.

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the many nonprofits combating malaria. Founded in 1948, WHO oversees international health through the United Nations and aims to improve health systems and respond to health crises all over the world. Their oversight and work includex fighting to eradicate malaria.

In 2015, the E-2020 plan, which aims to eliminate malaria in 21 countries by 2020, began. WHO is one of several supporters of this initiative and works with 21 countries to reach the elimination of malaria.

Comoros is one of the countries that WHO works with. In 2014, the number of reported indigenous malaria cases reached 53,000; in 2016, that number fell to 1,066. This decrease was the result of a treatment campaign, indoor spraying and the delivery of insecticide-treated nets by WHO.

Nothing But Nets 

Nothing but Nets supplies nets to areas that are vulnerable to malaria. The organization also raises awareness about malaria and mobilizes citizens to take action by contacting their representative or starting a fundraising campaign.

Nothing but Nets raised $65 million for 12 million mosquito nets to be sent to families all over the world. Most of these nets go to sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria is most common and deadly. In 2000, only two percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa owned mosquito nets; in 2017, 53 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa possessed a net.

As you can see, these top malaria nonprofits have made it their mission to put a stop to this disease sooner rather than later.

–  Drew Garbe

Photo: Flickr

New Mosquito NetsTwo weeks ago, The Lancet published a promising study on the effectiveness of a new type of mosquito net. After a two-year trial period in Burkina Faso, the researchers found the new mosquito nets, treated with two insecticides, decreased cases of malaria by 12 percent. These findings promise strong potential for lowering the risk of malaria worldwide with the implementation of these new mosquito nets.

This research is a collaboration among several institutions including Durham University, Burkina Faso’s National Center for Malaria Research and Training, Liverpool’s School of Tropical Medicine and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Malaria Worldwide

According to The World Health Organization, almost 50 percent of the world’s population was at risk of contracting malaria in 2016. While risk areas exist around the world, sub-Saharan Africa suffers the most cases of malaria each year.

In 2016, sub-Saharan Africa had 90 percent of the world’s malaria cases and 91 percent of the world’s malaria-related deaths. Though malaria-related deaths have declined significantly, from 440,000 in 2010 to 285,000 in 2016, malaria is still a great threat to health worldwide. Traditional, chemically-treated mosquito nets have helped to reduce the cases of malaria, however, as mosquitoes grow more resistant, these traditional nets have become less effective, leaving users more vulnerable to malaria infection.

The World Health Organization estimated there were five million more cases of malaria in 2016 compared to the total number of malaria cases in 2015. The above-mentioned study’s mosquito nets address this problem, by targeting insecticide-resistant mosquitoes that are causing these problems.

New Mosquito Nets

The older mosquito nets generally have a pyrethroid insecticide treatment, intended to kill mosquitoes on contact. This treatment has become less effective with time since the mosquitoes have developed a resistance to the insecticide. The new nets, presented in the research, combat this issue, by using a different insecticide.

The new insecticide is effective because it combines traditional pyrethroid treatment with another agent, pyriproxyfen. Pyriproxyfen works as an insect growth regulator, shortening the lifespan of mosquitoes and thus their ability to transmit disease, as well as reproduce.

According to professor Steve Lindsay, who worked on the study, this combination of chemicals has three main benefits: it kills more mosquitos, reduces the number of mosquito bites and decreases the likelihood that mosquitoes will develop resistance to the chemical mixture.

Results in Burkina Faso

A two-year trial, conducted in Burkina Faso, demonstrated the effectiveness of these new mosquito nets, treated with pyrethroid and pyriproxyfen. Burkina Faso was ideal for the study, due to the high number of malaria cases. Located in sub-Saharan Africa, Burkina Faso has more than 10 million cases of malaria every year. Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso were also ideal test subjects since they exhibit high resistance to pyrethroid treatment. According to Professor Lindsay, 80 percent of mosquitoes in Burkina Faso are so resistant to pyrethroid, they are no longer killed by it.

Researchers conducted the study in 91 villages throughout rural areas of the country. By switching traditional mosquito nets with nets treated with the new chemical blend, researchers saw a 12 percent decrease in malaria cases. Furthermore, the overall exposure to mosquitoes dropped by over 50 percent during the test period.

With these results, the researchers concluded the trial mosquito nets offer increased protection against malaria as opposed to standard pyrethroid-treated nets. They also recommended that these new nets replace standard nets in areas with high malaria transmission rates and high instances of insecticide resistance among mosquitoes.

Future Potential

Although 12 percent reduction in malaria cases may seem marginal, on a global scale and in real numbers, this decrease in malaria infection would be monumental. As Professor Lindsay noted, if the nets were used across all of Burkina Faso during the two-year trial, researchers would expect 1.2 million fewer cases of malaria in the population overall.

Dr. Alfred B. Tiono, who headed the field study, has great hope for the impact these new mosquito nets could have globally. He believes, if used correctly, the nets could prevent millions of malaria cases worldwide. It is still unclear how costly large-scale manufacturing of the dual-chemical nets will be. However, Professor Lindsay remains hopeful the manufacturing costs will not exceed the costs of producing traditional nets. If only one life is saved by applying the new nets, no price is too high to pay.

– Morgan Harden
Photo: Google

Bloodless Malaria Test Sets Bright Future for Sub-Saharan AfricaBrian Gitta is the first and youngest Ugandan inventor to win the African prize for releasing his highly innovative bloodless malaria test. A device called Matibabu tests for malaria by shining a beam of light onto the patient’s finger and can be downloaded on mobile devices.

Matibabu

This bloodless malaria test is low cost and reusable and doesn’t require a physician’s presence. Gitta, in an interview with United Press International, said: “We are incredibly honored to win the Africa Prize — it’s such a big achievement for us because it means that we can better manage production in order to scale clinical trials and prove ourselves to regulators.” These clinical trials will open up new partnership opportunities for Matibabu and vastly expand its entrepreneurial ability.

Many scholars say that Matibabu is “a game changer” for the thousands of people affected by malaria. Clinical trials show that Matibabu has an 80 percent effectiveness rate in identifying malaria, and with constant technology adjustments, Gitta hopes to bring that number up to 90 percent in the coming months.

Gitta’s team continues to perform research on the device as it awaits examination from global regulators. Until the app’s official approval, support from the academic community continues to surface, offering financial and supportive aid to Matibabu.

Malaria in Uganda

Malaria, as defined by the CDC, is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People who become infected often experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, abdominal pain, vomiting or nausea.

In 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria and over 400 thousand deaths linked to the disease. Uganda specifically bears a large burden by carrying the highest prevalence of malaria, with a rate of 478 cases per 1000 people on yearly basis.

Major challenges of malaria include high transmission intensity, inadequate healthcare resources and inadequate preparedness and response. Since 2014, the disease has decreased by almost 20 percent, but the prevalence is still striking. Inadequate resources include the inability to correctly diagnose the disease due to unqualified staff and inadequate training.

Several attempts have been made in the past to eliminate malaria. Some examples include insecticides and other chemically stronger indoor residual spraying of insecticides. Another example is the utilization of artemisinin-based therapy, which involves the prescription of two separate drugs used to eliminate the parasite located in the bloodstream.

However, these remedies have not proven to be one hundred percent effective. Data from the last decade shows no convincing evidence that malaria has decreased in Uganda in recent years. Gitta’s bloodless malaria test, however, is giving hope to many Ugandan residents who still face the struggle of diagnosis.

Benefits to the New Test

There are several long-term benefits of tests like Matibabu. The accessibility for the general public is arguably the most beneficial, as rural communities now have access to technology and can easily download the app.

Another benefit is that testing is more beneficial and cost-effective than presumption diagnosing. By affirming that a patient does, in fact, have malaria, available resources for malaria treatment can be distributed in the right way.

Furthermore, the World Health Organization states that: “Prompt parasitological confirmation by microscopy or alternatively by RDTs is recommended in all patients suspected of malaria before treatment is started. Treatment solely on the basis of clinical suspicion should only be considered when a parasitological diagnosis is not accessible.” By confirming a diagnosis, planning and treatments can be better financed through a more efficient allocation of money. For example, money being saved for testing could now be financed toward the research of other diseases in Uganda.

Matibabu plans to continue research in the upcoming months. By studying local transmission rates and local treatment costs, Matibabu is better suited to help the welfare of not only Uganda but many sub-Saharan African countries struggling to fight malaria.

– Logan Moore
Photo: Flickr