The Daily Impact: Malawi Taking Steps to Prevent Cholera Outbreak

January 31, 2013

Health authorities in Malawi are taking efforts to prevent the outbreak of cholera during this year’s rainy season. From VOA:

Nkhata Bay Cholera 2Henry Chimbali, the spokesperson for the ministry, says “The first thing is to provide [free] safe and treated water to people so they can use it in their homes by distributing chlorine and also promoting [a sodium hypochlorite solution called] Water Guard especially in areas where access to safe water is limited.”

Chimbali says the ministry has intensified community education on the construction and utilization of toilets to avoid the unsafe disposal of human waste which may help spread cholera-causing germs.

He says the country is likely to win the battle based on records showing no districts in the northern and southern regions have had any cholera in the past years.

Harold Kabuluzi, a spokesperson for Dedza District Hospital in Malawi’s central region, ““We do intensify health education all over the districts, and we distribute cholera materials in time like chlorine and other things to all the people [in the district]”.

Chimbali says to win the fight at the national level the government is working with various partners including international NGOs and the media.

“Fearing there could be some shortfalls in medical supplies, ” he explained, “we have different partners including UNICEF have  shops that are supported by USAID.  They have been in forefront in the provision of some cholera supplies. The media must be oriented so that they understand what cholera is all about. [Next, they must educate the public about how to prevent the disease.]”

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Global Health and Development Beat

TB – It turns out that TB can lie dormant in a person’s bone marrow following treatment and emerge years later to infect the person again, say researchers.

Cholera – Six villages in Uganda’s Dei parish have been struck by cholera.

Dengue - Peru extended a state of emergency in two Ucayali region states by 30 days in response to the ongoing dengue outbr

HIV/AIDS - Ugandans can now receive free HIV testing and counselling when visiting national health centers.

WASH - Poor water and sanitation costs the world $260 billion a year said Liberian President Sirleaf ahead of the UN High-level Panel meeting on the Post-2015 agenda.

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The Players

MSF - Needed aid is not making it to rebel-held areas of Syria, says MSF.

UN – The international community gathered yesterday in Kuwait to pledge over $1.5 billion in aid to Syrians affected by the civil war.

NIAID – A new website featuring the Malaria Host-Pathogen Interaction Center was launched with the support of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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Spotlight on PSI

Unilever’s Keith Weed outlines what makes for a successful public-private partnership in the Harvard Business Review Blog.

In both programs, the partnerships draw on the respective expertise of each player and we come together to deliver results at a scale that we would not have been able to deliver individually. Importantly, these collaborations have also taught (and re-taught) us some valuable lessons about what we can bring to and get from partnerships:

Find the right partner: Successful partnerships should draw on the marketing, consumer understanding and expertise of the private sector; and the reach, resources and scale from the public sector. There are many effective NGOs and government organisations to work with; some are large and have wide reach across countries, some are small and specialized in serving very specific communities. Find the one that has the expertise and experience in the particular field that you are aiming to influence. Don’t be afraid to work with more than one partner; equally, don’t stretch your resources too thinly by trying to work with everyone in the field.

Understand your audience: We’ve been in emerging markets for over 100 years, offering products aimed at the bottom of the pyramid as much as for wealthier consumers. We understand consumers and cater to the needs of those less affluent — from fortified margarine that help fulfill the nutritional requirements of people on a limited diet; to sachets that offer affordable access to well-known brands. And our insight is not limited to products. For instance, we also have Project Shakti: a rural distribution system run primarily in India, which currently employs more than 45,000 underprivileged rural women — Shakti Ammas, or ‘strength mothers’ — who are invited to become direct-to-consumer sales distributors in very small rural villages. We drew on our experience with the Shakti women to inform the Waterworks project that we are currently running with PSI.

Make it incremental: A partnership shouldn’t replace or replicate existing programs. Instead, focus on identifying new approaches or amplifying and extending the scale of proven programs. Be open to change, adapt and grow a partnership — it’s only through stretching goals that you will be able to make progress.

Empower the partnership: A senior executive must champion the partnership to ensure that the longer term goals survive the inevitable internal distractions and new priorities that arise in any business. At Unilever, each of our key partnerships is overseen by a dedicated global team that works jointly with a designated champion within each key country — and, depending on the programs, with local brand teams. Importantly, I oversee all our partnerships — and as a member of the executive board, I update my colleagues at the top table on the progress of the various projects.

We have big ambitions for our business, and for our consumers around the world. These ambitions are shared by many, and it’s only sensible that we all work together to make a difference.

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Buzzing in the Blogs

More effort is needed to put mobile and mapping technologies in the hands of frontline health workers to control neglected tropical diseases, says Simon Brooker.

The cornerstone of NTD control is mass treatment with effective drugs, which are mostly donated by pharmaceutical companies. The complex life cycles of many NTDs means that their occurrence can vary considerably from community to community, such that mass treatment is most cost-effective when treatment is targeted to communities with the highest burden of disease.

Although the GBD study provides burden estimates by country, it does not provide information on the distribution of NTDs within countries. Most endemic countries have weak surveillance systems to systematically measure the burden of diseases, including NTDs. This raises the issue of how to identify those populations most at risk from NTDs and ensure they receive treatment, and once they receive treatment track progress in control.

Maps have long been crucial in the planning of disease control: the first activity of the Rockefeller sanitary commission for the eradication of hookworm in the US in the first decades of the 20th century was school surveys conducted in each county in the southern states.

Advances in technology have made understanding where NTDs occur simpler in recent years. Mobile phone technology allows electronic data entry at the point of collection and rapid transmission of information to a central database. Once the data have been compiled, geographical information systems can help manage and display the disease data along with data on other factors which affect NTD distributions, such as climate and water and sanitation.

A number of global initiatives are assembling spatial data relevant to NTD control, and presenting it as a series of global and country-by-country maps. For example, the global atlas of helminth infectionscollates survey data on soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis and lymphatic filariasis into a single resource. The assembled data are useful for a number of epidemiological purposes, such as estimating the number of people infected with NTDs and predicting the distribution of infection in unsampled areas, using modern statistical methods. The maps can also highlight where further survey data is required.

There are other similar mapping initiatives, including the global NTD platformatlas of human African trypanosomiasisleishmaniasis e-compendium, as well as WHO’s global health repository and efforts by WHO regional offices.

The UK government has recently provided funding to a consortium of NGOs and academic institutions to finalise the global mapping of trachoma in more than 30 of the world’s poorest countries in the next three years. This support includes the development of a mobile application to accurately and rapidly collect the mapping data and making the maps publicly available via the global atlas of trachoma.

Such technological advances and initiatives are not without challenges, however. Mobile phone access and network coverage varies dramatically across Africa and it is certainly not uniform within countries, with rates lowest among poor rural communities – the very same communities most at risk of NTDs. Even though government staff own and use phones, uptake of mobile technology by government programmes remains limited – mobile technology-based project remain the preserve of international NGOs and researchers. Greater efforts are required to encourage greater use of mobile technology.

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Capital Events

Thursday

12:00 PM - International Criminal Law and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Syria and Libya - AU Law

Friday

9:30 AM - Women’s International Human Rights - Georgetown School of Foreign Service

12:30 PM - Renewable Resources Shocks and Conflict in India’s Maoist Belt - CGD

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By Mark Leon Goldberg and Tom Murphy; Photo Credit

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