Making inroads against malaria and more
Zambia’s health indicators paint a challenging picture—a life expectancy of only 39 years, the ninth-highest infant mortality rate in the world, and high rates of malaria and HIV. Since 2005, when PATH first helped the country implement a comprehensive malaria prevention program, Zambia has been proving that commitment and comprehensive action can make substantial inroads in combating disease.
Using information in controlling malaria
Beginning in 2005, PATH joined with the Government of Zambia, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and others to launch a national plan for tackling malaria and implementing a comprehensive prevention program. In addition to supporting planning and implementation of key interventions, the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), a program at PATH, has supported gathering, analyzing, and disseminating data, helping Zambia to identify its successes and challenges and to focus resources and interventions for greater effectiveness and efficiency.
Zambia has conducted three national malaria surveys with MACEPA’s support. To compile the Malaria Indicator Surveys, teams of trained workers fan out to every corner of the country. They record household and malaria information using handheld computers and test children for the disease. During an intense six weeks, workers typically reach more than 5,000 households. The data gathered in the surveys help the National Malaria Control Program and its partners plan interventions and allocate resources.
The National Malaria Control Program has identified five zones that have the potential to be free of malaria by 2015. As malaria numbers drop and disease incidence becomes more tightly focused, timely, actionable information becomes essential in planning response. MACEPA has supported the Ministry of Health in designing and introducing a rapid reporting system that records specific points of malaria data each week and sends the data to a central server by mobile phone. The information is immediately available to program managers at district, provincial, and national levels, allowing them to focus interventions on specific needs.
Empowering Zambians to prevent HIV
In the Copperbelt mining region, where HIV rates are high, PATH’s Arise project supports the Zambia Emory HIV Research Project in work to prevent new HIV infections among couples. This research project expands the use of couples HIV counseling and testing, refers HIV-positive clients to antiretroviral clinics, and helps people reduce their risks of infection.
Because the global HIV epidemic disproportionately affects women, we advocate for the development of technologies that women can safely use to protect themselves, with or without their partners’ active consent. By working with policymakers, the Global Campaign for Microbicides, for which PATH serves as secretariat, promotes a welcoming research environment for products such as vaginal microbicides and oral pre-exposure prophylaxis. Our community engagement and mobilization activities inform and involve the people who potentially will use the products.
Improving infant feeding and child nutrition
Nearly half of Zambian children less than five years old are at risk of lifelong physical and cognitive disabilities due to chronic malnutrition. Early childhood feeding practices, including breastfeeding, affect both nutrition and HIV transmission from mothers to their babies. Through the Infant and Young Child Nutrition project, PATH helped the Government of Zambia strengthen policies, programs, and health systems that support mothers in adopting better feeding habits and improving nutrition.
Collaborating with many partners, we provided instruction in sound nutrition counseling to national trainers and local volunteers. We addressed behavioral barriers with interventions ranging from radio programs to individual counseling, and created a nutrient-dense food supplement that uses ingredients available locally.
Banner photo: David Jacobs.