Sharp decline of malaria noted

Simon Kivamwo | 27 Aug 2006
Hardly a year after the US President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) in Tanzania had launched its activities in Zanzibar, there is a vivid sharp decline in malaria cases in the Isles as Abdul S Ali, the Zanzibar Malaria Control Program (ZMCP) Programme Manager reveals. Staff Writer Simon Kivamwo reports...

According to ZMCP, preliminary results indicate that there has been a sharp decline in the number of malaria reported cases in the public and private clinics. In 2004, the total cases of malaria recorded in all Zanzibar health facilities were over 400,000.

This figure has declined sharply by 31 per cent according to a recent survey conducted by ZMCP, so says a confident Ali. The ZMCP officer attributes this to the use of the long lasting nets.

The ZMCP, with funding from PMI, launched a communications campaign to support the distribution and use of the long lasting nets.

The campaign dubbed ''Kataa Malaria'' or refuse malaria has used a mix of community mobilization, mass media, and interpersonal education including messages on prompt and effective case management of malaria, IPT during pregnancy and indoor residual spraying.

The PMI in Tanzania was launched on December 19th in Zanzibar at the Mahonda Police Football Grounds.

PMI sought to ''dramatically reduce malaria as a major killer of children in sub-Saharan Africa'', he says.

According to Ali, the main actions the initiative dedicated to support were: promotion of insecticide treated nets (ITNs), indoor residual spraying (IRS), prompt and effective case management of malaria, and intermittent preventative treatment (IPT) in pregnancy.

The PMI had since last year pledged $1.2 billion dollars to 15 sub-Saharan African countries over the next 5 years. In addition to Uganda and Angola, Tanzania was selected as one of the first three countries to receive funding in 2006.

Reports had it that other countries would be added later as resources became available. PMI in Tanzania is a collaborative effort between the Government of Tanzania, the Government of Zanzibar, USAID, CDC, Multi-lateral organizations, NGOs, CBOs, FBOs and the private sector.

He says, the first action under PMI was the free distribution of 233,000 long lasting nets to every pregnant women and child under 5 in Zanzibar. The nets were funded by both PMI and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The long lasting nets were distributed in all the districts through the public and private clinics in the Zanzibar Isles. ''To date, a total of 210,129 nets have been distributed in both Unguja and Pemba,'' he says.

Ali says, house to house visits were conducted by seven NGO's during the campaign.

At the same time, three FBO's mobilized their congregation in the mosques and delivered messages on malaria prevention and treatment.

The activities that were implemented by the groups range from Capacity building of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), and Traditional Healers on ITNs/LLINs use, visits and referrals, interpersonal communication with pharmacists and drug sellers regarding ACT, Sensitization of pregnant women and several others.

Likewise, he says, a total of 235 shehias (187 in Unguja and 80 in Pemba) were visited. ''This represents coverage of about 88 per cent.

This means, in total, 28,364 households were supported in hanging the nets, he says.

On his part, Richard Kasesela, T-MARC's Director of External Affairs says, to make the initiative yields positive results, his institution decided to develop mass media materials including two radio spots which promoted net installation and a television spot that promoted the use of long lasting nets. ''These spots were aired in the national media including Radio Zanzibar and Television Zanzibar,'' he says.

According to Kasesela, on January 17th this year, as part of the net distribution, the African Rainbow Expedition, led by veteran National Geographic Explorer Kingsley Holgate and his team, were involved in the distribution of 5,000 long lasting insecticide treated nets to every child under five and pregnant mother in the islands of Panza, Shamiani and Makoongwe.

The team was sailing by Dhow, appropriately named the "Spirit of Adventure''. The expedition originally sailed from Durban, South Africa on 4th June 2005 and reached its halfway point at the Somali border.

The expedition was concluded in Durban, South Africa on 4th June 2006.