Where women and families live should not determine if they live—this is the philosophy driving Jhpiego’s work in 14 countries to defeat malaria, a disease that impacts millions, primarily in low-income countries. Pregnant women and children under five years old are particularly vulnerable to malaria because of their compromised immune systems. Malaria in pregnancy often contributes to dangerous health consequences for the mother and her unborn baby, including severe maternal anemia, low birth weight and even death. For children under five, malaria remains the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa.
The theme for World Malaria Day 2015 is Invest in the Future, Defeat Malaria. While at face value this might seem like an obvious declaration, in the fight against this relentless killer of more than 584,000 each year, significant investments in improved prevention, diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between life and death. From public-private partnerships that train health workers in high-risk communities, to increased commitment from countries to strengthen health systems, to buy-in from local communities to protect their citizens, we know these investments work. We have seen firsthand how, with support from donors and partners, countries across Africa and Asia have helped countless women and children survive malaria, and, most important, have prevented many new cases of malaria.
So what do we know works?
- Prevention: The best way to defeat malaria is to prevent it from the start. In 2014, Jhpiego-supported programs contributed to 872,000 women in 12 countries receiving two doses of preventive medication for malaria in pregnancy—saving countless women and babies from serious health complications.
- Early Intervention: Prompt recognition, diagnosis and treatment of malaria among children under five saves lives. Through case management, infected children can quickly receive the treatment they need to stop the progression of the disease and reduce the risk of it spreading to family members or the community by infected mosquitos. With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Jhpiego has helped train 2,105 community health workers in Malawi to provide this critical health intervention.
- Partnership: In Chad and Cameroon, a unique public-private partnership between Jhpiego, ExxonMobil and the Ministries of Health has prepared 356 health workers, including 168 community health volunteers, to provide education as well as referral and treatment services in high-risk districts.
- Community-Based Care: Bringing services and information to where women and families live is a critical way to increase access. Through the USAID-funded and Jhpiego-led Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP), community health volunteers travel door to door, sharing information on the risks and symptoms of malaria, especially during pregnancy, the importance of using treated bed nets, and the services available at health facilities.
- Commitment: To bring about real change, governments, local partners and communities need to step up to the plate. In Burkina Faso, the government has committed to reducing malaria mortality by 50 percent and reducing the incidence of malaria, particularly during pregnancy. Under a new USAID-supported initiative, that commitment has led to Jhpiego’s training of 850 supervisors and health care workers across 20 districts in Burkina—in just the first year of a five-year project—to provide high-quality diagnosis and treatment services along with prevention information.
For decades, malaria seemed to have the upper hand, but today, we are seeing real progress in ending this 100 percent preventable and treatable disease. Using what we know works and building on investments from stakeholders around the globe, we can finally defeat malaria.
Dr. Leslie Mancuso is Jhpiego’s President and CEO.
In Cameroon, see how Jhpiego and ExxonMobil are preparing health workers in the community to fight malaria. Read More »
Through USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program, pregnant women in Western Kenya receive needed health services to keep them safe from malaria.
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In Burkina Faso, an ambitious project to reduce malaria deaths by 50 percent is going strong with the support of the government.
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