Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Transport and Logistics Favourite Charity Takes a Swat at Malaria and Saves a Host of Lives

Transaid Cooperative Trial Cuts Ninety Seven Per Cent of Deaths from the Disease
Shipping News Feature
ZAMBIA – Many in shipping and logistics are used to putting their hands in their pockets for transport charity Transaid and can take satisfaction from the latest news that the organisation, in partnership with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), in collaboration with a consortium of partners and the Zambian National Malaria Elimination Centre (NMEC), have completed the 12 month MAMaZ Against Malaria (MAM) programme pilot with exceptional success, saving the lives of many children in Serenje district, Zambia.

During the pilot, severe malaria child case fatality was drastically reduced from 8% to 0.25%, with three recorded deaths during the 12-month study period compared to 97 deaths that would have been expected in this period. George Jagoe, Head of Access & Product Management, MMV, commented:

“Malaria can become deadly all too quickly, especially for vulnerable children under 5. This pilot project with Transaid has confirmed that we can save lives from severe malaria with appropriate interventions even in access-challenged rural settings. The incredible 96% reduction in case fatality shows the undeniable benefit of using of RAS and ETS in tandem and the importance of scaling up this work to save more lives from this disease.”

Malaria places a heavy burden on the health of children. With intensive global effort, it is estimated that 6.2 million deaths due to malaria were prevented between 2001 and 2015, 5.9 million (95%) of which were those of young children. However, malaria continues to take its toll. In 2016, the disease is estimated to have taken the lives of over 300,000 children under the age of 5 years.

Transaid and MMV worked in collaboration with the National Malaria Elimination Centre (NMEC) of Zambia to procure WHO-prequalified Rectal Artesunate Suppository (RAS). All suspected severe malaria cases identified in the community were given RAS and referred to a health facility.

Key to project success was the training of more than 500 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) to mobilise communities around severe malaria, including emergency transport scheme riders, as well as the training of 31 health workers in severe malaria case management using injectable artesunate. Training high numbers of CHVs has been essential to behaviour change in communities. Sustainable capacity has also been built within the district which has embraced the pilot from the very first day.

The project’s Emergency Transport System (ETS) supported more than 70% of all suspected severe malaria cases, with 1,066 transfers made to a health facility. Caroline Barber, CEO of Transaid, said:

“The number of lives saved is a real testament to how important timely access to healthcare services is and we’re delighted to be able to share such excellent results and are now looking at how this approach can be scaled up across Zambia.”

Severe malaria is highly prevalent in children under the age of five in the Serenje District. The MAM programme pilot set out to improve malaria case management by introducing RAS and increasing access to other key malaria medicines by strengthening the Emergency Transport System (ETS) and equipping communities with additional bicycle ambulances and training new riders. Victor Simfukwe, Transaid’s Project Manager in Zambia, commented:

“The strong partnership with NMEC and District Health Management Team (DHMT) has really made this project so successful. We have all worked together to achieve these results. The ETS component was absolutely integral to the success and we want to thank the partners and the communities for embracing the challenge of bringing RAS to Zambia for the first time and ensuring its availability in rural areas.”

The MAM project has also already caught the imagination of the UK transport industry, which has appreciated how a functioning supply chain can save children’s lives. Additional support for the project raised at industry events have allowed Transaid to expand the reach of the project with additional bicycle ambulances and training.