No one has attempted it before: hunt down every malaria infection in a vast swath of rural Africa in order to rid both people and mosquitoes of the most deadly malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. But after making huge strides in reducing malaria illnesses and deaths through prevention and control, Zambia is now pursuing elimination of the disease.
It’s an ambitious goal. To succeed, Zambia needs new strategies to stop the transmission of the malaria parasite from humans to mosquitos and back to humans. Many people who carry the parasite never go to a clinic. And while many of them may have no symptoms, they are still infectious. PATH and our key partner, the government of Zambia, are piloting a number of groundbreaking approaches to elimination in the country’s Southern Province, including treating whole communities in a fell swoop.
Volunteer health workers travel from village to village, testing every member of every household. Whether the results are positive or negative, everyone is given a three-day supply of drugs to kill any malaria parasite the test may not have detected. The drug also prevents new infections for a month. By then at least two generations of mosquitos will have lived and died, reducing the chance of mosquito-to-human transmission.Whole communities are involved in the effort—from ministers and chiefs who are mobilizing their constituents to children who offer their fingers to be pricked for the malaria test. Here are some of the inspiring Zambians who are eliminating malaria.