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Controlling Malaria Dollar by Dollar in Zambia

November 11, 2013

On a scorching hot summer day in Zambia’s Lusaka Province I was on hand to cover Malaria No More’s Power of One launch celebration. The Power of One campaign – which officially kicked off in September in the United States – rallies the global community to raise funds to help test Zambian children for malaria and treat them if they have it. With a mere $1 donation to Power of One, one child can be tested for malaria and will receive a full course of Coartem, the malaria medicine used to prevent children from dying from the wholly preventable infectious disease. 

Thus far over $400,000 has already been donated by the public and hundreds of thousands of Zambian children under the age of five will not die from malaria, one of the top three killers of children in developing countries. Power of One was created to fill in the gaps where rapid diagnostic tests and Coartem treatments are lacking in Zambia.

Malaria No More chose to start its Power of One campaign in Zambia because advanced malaria control efforts are already well underway there. The Zambian government, along with key allies such as USAID, the Global Fund, the President’s Malaria Initiative and Path’s MACEPA (Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa) program, are all working in tandem to control the disease throughout the country. 100% of Zambia’s 14 million people are at risk of contracting the mosquito-borne disease, but because of rigorous control efforts only 8,000 people die from malaria each year in Zambia. Sadly, these deaths are mainly children under the age of five because of their weak immune systems as well as delays in testing and treatments. That is where Power of One comes in: prompt and reliable testing and treatments for children save them from dying from malaria.

The Zambian government has increased its budget to $24 million for malaria control in hopes that five malaria free zones will be created throughout the county and eventually replicated throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Utilizing robust mobile technology, newly-trained frontline health workers can now rapidly send malaria data to clinics to help bring these malaria free zones to fruition. So far, these frontline health workers are spending 80% of their time testing for malaria.

Power of One’s Zambia launch celebration took place at the rural Waterfalls community clinic only miles outside of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. On that day over 100 mothers with children tightly snuggled on their backs and stomachs with their children's health cards in hand came to pick up new mosquito nets, a proven intervention that stops the spread of malaria. Three Power of One partners – Malaria No More, Novartis and Alere – were also there to announce the first 200,000 units of rapid diagnostic tests from Alere and Coartem from Novartis had been delivered to Zambia through Power of One donations. 

At Waterfalls clinic there has been a 66% reduction in malaria outpatient services because of its heavy emphasis on using mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying. On the community level, the Waterfalls health workers are also using rapid diagnostic tests and Coartem to save the lives of children like five-month-old Given whose mother, Mavis Tembo, 18, brought him to the clinic because she believed he had malaria.

Mavis Tembo

After being tested and treated Given was healthy in one week. The strength of Power of One is savings the lives of hundreds of thousands of children under five just like Given. 

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