Sights Set on Malaria Eradication: Traditional and Religious Leaders Convene with National Governments, Leading Scientists, and Communities Affected by Malaria at 2020 Isdell:Flowers Round Table
This article was originally published on All Africa.
LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA — February 28 2020 – The global community has its sights set on malaria eradication. The Lancet Commission on Malaria Eradication’s report, Malaria eradication within a generation: ambitious, achievable, and necessary , released in September 2019, laid out necessary steps to eradicate malaria – a preventable disease that continues to affect the most vulnerable communities throughout Africa – by 2050. The World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group on Malaria Eradication (SAGme), which released an executive summary of its findings in August 2019, will soon publish a full report that analyzes future scenarios for malaria and reaffirms that eradication is a goal worth pursuing, likely to save millions of lives and billions of dollars. Experts involved in both bodies of research recognized the importance of community-driven responses to malaria eradication, as well as the development of new tools and technologies, increased funding, and national-level leadership for malaria eradication.
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Pictured, from left to right: Abubacar Sultan, UNICEF Representative; Rt. Rev. André Soares, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Angola; Rev. Deolinda Teca, General Secretary of the Angolan Council of Christian Churches; and Dr. Franco Cazembe Mufinda, Secretary of State for Public Health of the Republic of Angola listen to declarations of commitment from religious leaders to work towards a country free of malaria.
This story was originally published by allAfrica.
Luanda, Angola — The Angolan Council of Christian Churches (CICA) and the Anglican Diocese of Angola convene leaders from government and civil society to announce their leadership in advocacy for malaria elimination.
Anglican Bishop André Soares announced the formal launch of an Interfaith Commission for the Fight against Malaria on December 2nd during a high-level panel featuring faith, government, and non-governmental leaders. He invited representatives from all faith communities to participate in this commission, spearheaded by the Anglican Church, CICA, and Caritas.
"We have come here today, on the 2nd of December, for the church to make a commitment, starting right now, to unite in the fight against malaria," said Bishop Andre Soares. We will consolidate our efforts, with all religious leaders united together."
The newly launched commission will advocate for the elimination of malaria – a preventable disease that continues to threaten the health and well-being of Angola, as noted in the 2019 World Malaria Report released last week;11,814 malaria deaths and over 5 million malaria cases were reported in the country in 2018.
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As we reflect on 2019, one event worth remembering was the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative Round Table, held February 28 – March 1, 2019 in Livingstone, Zambia. Promoting the 2019 World Malaria Day slogan of “Zero Malaria Starts With Me,” the Round Table focused on community engagement in the context of malaria elimination. Government officials, representatives from malaria-endemic communities, and program, academic, and private sector partners convened at the Round Table to discuss the necessity of community engagement and the involvement of those directly affected by malaria in malaria elimination efforts. Participants shared practical examples and principles of successful community engagement activities. Three core principles of effective community engagement emerged: 1) there is no “one size fits all” community engagement strategy; 2) community engagement must be a bidirectional activity; and 3) community members must be at the heart of malaria elimination efforts. Detailed Round Table proceedings were written up and published as a meeting report in Malaria Journal, which can be found at here.
J.C. Flowers Foundation Launches FLAME (Faith Leader Advocacy for Malaria Elimination) in Zambia and Angola
The J.C. Flowers Foundation’s Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative is launching FLAME (Faith Leader Advocacy for Malaria Elimination). FLAME will catalyze and strengthen interfaith coalitions of religious leaders for malaria advocacy. These coalitions – based in Angola, Zambia, Namibia, and Zimbabwe – will seek to amplify the advocacy voice of religious leaders for malaria elimination in a manner that is aligned with national malaria control and elimination program priorities. The coalitions will address the challenge of imperfect policies and insufficient funding to eliminate malaria.
Religious leaders can be effective advocates by serving as a bridge between technical experts and decision-makers. Recognizing the unique role of religious leaders in malaria elimination, IFCBMI has partnered with the Anglican Church in Southern Africa for more than 10 years. FLAME will build upon IFCBMI’s existing work with faith leaders and will include leaders from diverse faiths and traditions throughout the four countries.
Once recruited, faith leaders will receive training in malaria and advocacy, and will form interfaith coalitions to advance technically informed advocacy for policies and funding to accelerate malaria.
Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative gains recognition at the South African medical Research Council's 5th Annual Malaria Research Conference
On July 30 to August 1, 2019 the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Office of Malaria Research hosted the 5th Annual Malaria Research Conference at the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa Campus. The theme of this year’s conference, “Cooperation for Elimination,” is at the heart of the malaria elimination activities carried out by The Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative of the J.C. Flowers Foundation (IFCBMI). Presenter and attendee disciplines varied widely, including parasitology, epidemiology, global health economics, political and organizational leadership, and community mobilization/activism, among others. IFCBMI represented the work of its team members and program communities with two oral presentations, four poster presentations, and panel discussion contributions. Alexandra Gordon, Program Officer for IFCBMI, won the award of “Best Poster of the 5th Annual Malaria Research Conference, for her poster titled: “Data for Action: How standardized, community-based data collection and action planning can inform program prioritization and advocacy efforts.”
Constance Njovu, IFCBMI Regional Coordinator, presented on Social and Behavioral Change Communication (SBCC) in the context of malaria elimination. “There is no successful malaria elimination intervention without community-driven Social and Behavioral Change Communication,” Njovu explained. To illustrate this, Njovu presented an example of a successful community-driven SBCC initiative in Zambia where community health workers consulted traditional leaders to develop and deliver messaging to address the lack of acceptance of community-based malaria testing. Messaging centered on dispelling myths and promoting community health, and was delivered in ways that the community preferred (e.g. community meetings and church services). Because the community trusted the traditional leaders’ messages and authority, the community grew to accept community-based blood testing for malaria.
Emilia Wime, IFCBMI Angola Focal Point, presented on how providing malaria endemic communities with the skills and resources needed to eliminate the disease produces results beyond malaria. She explained that TKMI malaria elimination efforts in Angola’s Cunene Province, which aim to support the acceptance and use of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), indoor residual spraying (IRS), and early testing for malaria, contribute to high malaria knowledge, acceptance of IRS, and bed net usage. Beyond these positive malaria results, Wime explained “communities are seeing a larger transformation in themselves because they are taking a leadership role in these activities.” Wime shared a testimony from a community member named Linea, who reported feeling a revived hope for her community and a sense of pride for her work as a community malaria volunteer. In addition to her malaria skills, she has been given an esteemed community-wide role, and has felt that her identity has changed from someone invisible to someone with status and responsibility.
The IFCBMI Team also gave four poster presentations. João Baptista Nelo, IFCBMI Provincial Coordinator in Angola’s Cuando Cubango Province, presented on the community engagement methodology being employed in Cuando Cubango Province. In partnership with the Council of Christian Churches in Angola, IFCBMI mobilized a network of Community Malaria Elimination Committees in four municipalities. These committees take on a leadership role for the ongoing effort to promote successful malaria interventions, identify barriers to success, and identify and implement appropriate solutions. Ndakudana Hamukwaya, Northern Program Officer of the Namibia Anglican Community Development Organization, presented on how community-driven SBCC approaches that were tailored to the specific barriers to malaria elimination in the Ohangwena and Omusati regions of Namibia strengthened community engagement and action. João Lino Rafael, Angola Operations Manager, presented on a collaboration between communities and stakeholders in Calai, Angola and Rundu, Namibia to address the issue of cross border treatment seeking at Rundu State Hospital. The award-winning poster of Alexandra Gordon, Program Officer, described a monitoring and action plan developed by IFCBMI to facilitate community-informed programmatic decision-making. As part of this process, program monitoring data collected in February and March 2019 were shared with stakeholders at the community and regional levels through guided discussions that facilitated deeper community-based analysis, resulting in detailed action plans.
To wrap up the conference, Rebecca Vander Meulen, Executive Director of the J.C. Flowers Foundation, participated in a panel discussion entitled “Translating Research into Policy.” Alongside Dr. John Chimumbwa, newly appointed Executive Director of the SADC Malaria Elimination 8 Secretariat, and four other panelists, Vander Meulen discussed how to translate important research and sound policy into the practical reality of malaria on the ground. Vander Meulen emphasized the importance of recognizing all of the experts who must work together for malaria elimination—both the scientists and the community members living in malaria-endemic communities. Just as a parasitologist is an expert in Plasmodium falciparum, a mother is an expert in the dynamics of her own community and the care of her children. The only way we will attain malaria elimination is if we practice “Cooperation for Elimination” and value the expertise of the mother who chooses to put her child to sleep under a net as complementary to the expertise of scientists and public health professionals.
Bishop David Njovu provides remarks on Recent religious leaders’ orientation workshop on malaria elimination in Lusaka
This article was originally published by The Mast.
The End Malaria Council (EMC) has disclosed that Zambia recorded over five million cases of Malaria last year alone out which 1,214 lives were lost to the disease.
Speaking when he opened the religious leaders’ orientation workshop on malaria elimination organised by the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) in partnership with Isdell Flowers Foundation and the Anglican Council of Zambia at Mika Convention Centre in Lusaka, EMC member Right Reverend Bishop David Njovu said malaria was one of the top 10 diseases that accounts for 30 per cent of attendance at health facilities across the country.
“According to the Health Management Information Systems data (HMIS) for 2018, over five million cases of malaria were attended to in public health facilities. Out of these cases, there were a total of 1,214 deaths,” he said. “This shows that malaria continues to be a major public health problem in Zambia.”
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Reverend Kativa Tchitango lives in the far southeast corner of Angola, a three-day drive from the capital, Luanda. In his province of Cuando Cubango, there has typically been about one case of malaria diagnosed every year for every two citizens; Last year, there were 298,296 cases reported within his province. And though malaria affects people of all ages, 70% of those who die from malaria are children under age 5.
Because of its ubiquity, malaria has been regarded as an unquestioned inevitability. But it does not need to be that way: malaria is easily prevented, diagnosed, and treated. Over the past two years, there has been a rapid expansion in Cuando Cubango of the availability of free insecticide-treated mosquito nets (which protect those sleeping inside the nets) and indoor residual spraying (which kills mosquitoes that land on the walls of a treated house). Since malaria is only caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, using these tools dramatically reduces the risk of catching malaria. Pocket-sized rapid diagnostic tests have also become more widely available, and they give an accurate malaria diagnosis with just a drop of blood within minutes - and without requiring on electricity. Good treatment is also more widely available, which completely cures malaria in three days through just a few tablets. The Angolan Ministry of Health in partnership with Elimination 8 Secretariat has supported the expansion of these tools and services, with financial support from the Global Fund and the Gates Foundation.
However, in a culture where malaria has been ubiquitous, these tools are not automatically accepted by all. It takes time to get used to tucking in a net over the bed and under the mattress every night. It takes courage to allow sprayers into the house, with their menacing head-to-toe protective coverings. When a child has a fever, rushing to a health provider has not been the obvious first step, considering the journey has been far (especially when carrying a small child) and too often there is no help available once there. So faith leaders like Rev. Tchitango have had a key role in encouraging people to take advantage of these tools. They have a powerful voice in their own communities, and have led by example by taking advantage of these tools in their own household. Rev Tchitango is proud that he has not contracted malaria since 2017, when he started sleeping under a mosquito net. In addition to modeling healthy practices, faith leaders like Rev. Tchitango have mobilized and supported teams of lay volunteers to do door-to-door teaching and support with net hang-up.
Today we celebrate Rev. Tchitango and the other faith leaders who have recognized that their role as shepherd and pastor includes working for the physical health of those in their communities. We celebrate the hundreds of community malaria volunteers we work with in Angola, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, who daily serve as anti-malaria ambassadors, spreading the good news that malaria is preventable and treatable. They are saving lives in remote communities. On their behalf, Chris Flowers has accepted the Malaria No More UK Commonwealth Honours, which recognizes all those involved in the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative for their community led response in areas that are particularly vulnerable to malaria yet often underserved by health services.
Anglican Clergy Showcase Leadership in Fight against Malaria in Southern Africa during Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative Round Table
This article was originally posted by Episcopal News Service.
Anglican clergy gathered in Livingstone, Zambia on 28 February and 1 March at the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative’s annual Round Table to discuss the important role of faith communities in malaria elimination. The Honourable Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, the Minister of Health of Zambia, formally opened the meeting and joined the clergy in their support for increased community and church engagement.
“It is our role as a church to be involved in health-related matters,” said the Most Reverend Albert Chama, Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Central Africa. “When we talk about the healing of people, it is not only spiritual but also physically that they are healed…We need to take a front seat so that we can be able to inform people the dangers of malaria, so that it can be prevented.”
Read full article from Episcopal News Service here.
WHO and partners launch new country-led response to put stalled malaria control efforts back on track
This press release was originally published by the World Health Organization on November 19, 2018.
Reductions in malaria cases have stalled after several years of decline globally, according to the new World malaria report 2018. To get the reduction in malaria deaths and disease back on track, WHO and partners are joining a new country-led response, launched today, to scale up prevention and treatment, and increased investment, to protect vulnerable people from the deadly disease.
For the second consecutive year, the annual report produced by WHO reveals a plateauing in numbers of people affected by malaria: in 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria, compared to 217 million the year before. But in the years prior, the number of people contracting malaria globally had been steadily falling, from 239 million in 2010 to 214 million in 2015.
“Nobody should die from malaria. But the world faces a new reality: as progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We recognise we have to do something different – now. So today we are launching a country-focused and -led plan to take comprehensive action against malaria by making our work more effective where it counts most – at local level.”
Read the full press release here.
This article was originally published by PMI.
When malaria tests are offered in Lusaka, Zambia, Anglican Bishop David Njovu and a village leader are often the first to be tested in order to set an example. This community-level testing and treatment is made possible in part due to investments provided by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), which Bishop Njovu says has led to a “dramatic change” in the malaria situation in Zambia.
Another way the bishop helps address malaria in his community is by encouraging his priests to speak about proper malaria prevention and treatment. To keep from ostracizing people, they do not outright condemn traditional healing, but instead invite healthcare professionals to educate the community on malaria basics. Prayer coexists with modern medicine.
Bishop Njovu shared all of this during a recent multi-city tour of the U.S. and the U.K. with three other Anglican bishops from Southern Africa: Archbishop Albert Chama from Church of the Province of Central Africa, Bishop Luke Pato of the Diocese of Namibia, and Bishop André Soares of the Diocese of Angola. The visit was hosted by the J.C. Flowers Foundation as a part of the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative with the intention of encouraging policymakers to rethink the role of faith leaders and communities in the fight against malaria.
Read the full article here.