No one has attempted it before: hunt down every malaria infection in a vast swathe 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 a living laboratory for the pursuit of malaria-free zones and, ultimately, total elimination of the disease. We are working with Zambia's Ministry of Health on an aggressive approach pioneered by the Malaria Control and Elimination Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), a program at PATH. The strategy is part of our work to help stop malaria transmission in countries in different stages of the fight against the disease, and develop a model for elimination across the continent.
The strategy consists of three steps. First, create a robust reporting system of malaria infections and locate hotspots. Next, send waves of health care teams out to track down and treat all infections. Finally, keep up the surveillance, investigate, and stamp out potential outbreaks before they start.
Dozens of “test and treat” teams are fanning out across Zambia. Carrying lab supplies and handheld computers across rivers and over miles of dirt paths, the teams are bringing hospital services to villages and, in the process, rapidly shrinking the malaria map.