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PATH welcomed today's announcement by Zambia's Minister of Health, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, speaking on behalf of Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the President of Zambia, commemorating World Malaria Day with the launch of an ambitious national strategy to eliminate malaria by 2021. The strategy demonstrates Zambia's regional leadership in the malaria fight—if successful, it would be the first sub-Saharan country with significant, year-round transmission to eliminate the disease.
Zambia has a history of commitment at the highest levels of government to reducing malaria, backed by strong partnerships with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, U.S. President's Malaria Initiative, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and PATH, among others. A member of the Elimination 8, a group of eight countries in Southern Africa that share the goal of malaria elimination, Zambia is at the forefront of a regional push for malaria-free status.
Dr. Nanthalile Mugala, head of PATH's office in Zambia, said "I worked for many years as a pediatrician at a referral hospital and visited many health facilities in rural Zambia, and I have seen firsthand how far we have come in fighting this disease—now, transmission is much lower and more Zambians have access to care and prevention than ever before. The best way to sustain this progress is to move to the next step which is why I am enthusiastic about the push to eliminate."
The strategy builds on Zambia's reputation for innovation in malaria, and PATH is proud to support its goals, continuing a partnership in fighting malaria over ten years in the making.
Beginning in 2005, Zambia, with support from PATH and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pushed a country-wide approach to scale-up proven interventions, such as bed nets, indoor spraying, and improved case management. Known as "Scale-Up for Impact," it effectively cut malaria cases in deaths in children by half and was adopted by other countries in the region.
Over the last three years, Zambia and PATH have been investigating strategies to further accelerate the gains against malaria, including mass drug administration as a complement to other interventions in Southern Province. Through this approach, Zambia achieved a stunning 93 percent reduction in malaria in children throughout Southern Province between 2012 and 2015, and a 97 percent reduction in facility-reported malaria deaths in participating districts within the province.
"Zambia is very motivated to make malaria elimination a reality, and government and partners have been especially open to innovating and pursuing new approaches to make that happen," said Dr. John Miller, a senior advisor with the Malaria Control and Elimination Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), a program at PATH. "What we have learned through Scale-Up for Impact and trying new strategies like mass drug administration will help other countries follow the Zambia example, advancing the science of malaria elimination as a whole."
Currently, PATH supports Zambia's Ministry of Health and its National Malaria Elimination Center with three projects: MACEPA, strengthening data systems and surveillance to show that malaria elimination is possible; MalariaCare, improving the quality of malaria diagnostic and treatment services; and the Program for the Advancement of Malaria Outcomes (PAMO), working to lower disease burden in high-transmission areas. MACEPA is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; MalariaCare and PAMO are funded by USAID.
As Zambia targets achieving zero malaria cases, it continues to pursue better data and data use. PATH and Tableau Software, along with a growing number of technology-sector partners, are proud to support Zambia through the Visualize No Malaria project. The project will improve data accuracy and presentation, enabling Zambian health workers to tackle outbreaks effectively, and decision makers to smartly deploy limited resources.
Zambia's rich and improving evidence base provides the foundation for its commitment to eliminate malaria—with PATH support the country has near real-time malaria data down to the clinic level, and increasingly from the community level. We are proud to partner with a national malaria program dedicated to finishing this preventable disease, and we congratulate Zambia on its historic World Malaria Day commemoration.
Posted April 25, 2017.