By Eric Liswaniso, Program Manager – Malaria Partners Zambia
When Partners For a Malaria Free Zambia launched in Lusaka about a year and a half ago, our goal was clear; train, equip and deploy 2, 500 community health workers in 10 malaria high burden districts across 2 provinces in Zambia.
Today, we are proud to announce that that target has been met.
More than 1.2 million Zambians will now have access to primary healthcare through the services of their own neighbors and friends who have now been trained to test, detect and treat malaria and other ailments.
We have already started seeing results in some places like Nshinso community in Mkushi district where the incidence rate is now down 50% in just 12 months of the community health workers being deployed. We can be hopeful that with the deployment of the last group of community-based volunteers in Kabwe, we are several steps closer to malaria eradication than when we just begun.
With the support of Rotarians as well as other partners like PATH MACEPA, President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and the PAMO Plus project, we have been able to strengthen healthcare systems at the provincial level through to the neighborhood health committees, which are the lowest structure in the Zambian healthcare system. By building the capacities of public officials at all levels of the healthcare system, we are promoting ownership and ensuring the sustainability of the program.
Also gratifying to us as a project is the historic visit of our Rotary International President, Jennifer Jones, who was in Zambia this past August to appreciate the malaria elimination work that Rotary is leading and financing through the partners for a malaria-free Zambia project. From an advocacy standpoint, the visit which also included a courtesy call on the republican president, is expected to boost the provision of essential supplies such as medicines and testing kits for the community health workers. Continuously supplying the volunteers with the tools and commodities they need to do their work not only motivates them but also ensures that there is no disruption in the delivery of health services to the community, hence saving lives.
No one must ever have to die from a preventable and treatable disease. That’s why we call on all Rotarians to embrace the effort to eradicate malaria. We are – “people of action.”