Malaria No More UK has been working with partners in Namibia to address a key challenge in the country’s efforts to eliminate malaria: consistent and effective diagnosis and treatment.
Malaria rates have been slashed by over 95% in Namibia over the last decade. This means it is no longer the case that most fevers are caused by malaria, making accurate diagnosis essential so the right treatment can be given.
The charity worked with partners, including the Ministry of Health, to develop and test enhanced training for health workers in one of the country’s most malaria prone regions: aiming to improve correct diagnosis and treatment of fevers including use of the new Rapid Diagnostic Test kits for malaria.
Over 100 health workers were trained in Kavango, the region with the highest reported malaria illness. The results of the programme showed a significant rise in the number of patients tested for malaria and an increase in correct prescriptions of malaria treatment.
The strongest improvement was seen when training was followed up by mentoring, resulting in the number of patients tested rising from 27% to a whopping 90%. Almost 8,000 people benefited from malaria testing in the six months following the training and the work continues.
One of the challenges with malaria testing has been shown to be health workers giving malaria pills in spite of a negative test result; this may be due to pressure to treat or distrust of the test results. The enhanced training was also shown to prevent this with a drop in negative tested cases being treated with malaria pills from 24% to 0.3%.
It is extremely encouraging that the increased testing also showed much lower levels of malaria in the region than previously thought. This is really positive news for Namibia’s efforts to become malaria free and helps the Ministry of Health to plan for the future.
Angelika, one of the malaria mentors (pictured above) told Malaria No More UK “This training has helped us frame the way we look at cases… we have proof that we are fighting malaria and getting to zero local transmission. It is something I can already see, the training changed our mindset. We are not vulnerable. We can combat malaria.”
Continuing the work
Excitingly, efforts now are underway to roll out the new training and mentorship programme across the country with support from The Global Fund.
Malaria No More UK are also continuing ther work in Namibia with a new programme helping health clinics and communities identify and target responses in the country’s remaining malaria hotspots; aiming to maximise impact towards Namibia’s goal to become malaria free by 2020.