Collaborating with government and local organizations to combat malaria in Zambia’s rural and poor communities.

The Challenge

Despite the great progress in fighting malaria across Africa, the disease still kills more people on the continent than anywhere else in the world: More than 90 percent of malaria-related deaths occur on African soil, and in Zambia, the disease kills more children under 5 than any other illness.

Like other African governments, Zambia has set an ambitious goal to eliminate malaria, which has devastating social and economic impacts. In sub-Saharan Africa, reductions in malaria cases have saved an estimated $900 million in case management costs over the past 14 years.

PATH: Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa

The international nonprofit organization PATH’s Malaria Control and Elimination Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has partnered with Zambia’s National Malaria Control Program, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, and local leaders in Zambia’s Southern Province, with a goal to reduce the malaria burden by 75 percent from 2010 levels and create five malaria-free zones.

The PATH partnership focuses on documenting the occurrence of malaria, delivering effective malaria-control tools and treatments, and developing innovative strategies to eliminate malaria in Zambia’s most at-risk areas, especially poor and rural communities.

Insecticide-treated mosquito nets and household spraying have been effective in controlling malaria, and rapid diagnostic tests and drug treatments have helped provide targeted detection and treatment for affected communities. But to eliminate all parasites, new tools and approaches are needed.

Impact: Odinga Chitonka and Given Kasanga’s Story

When it comes to mapping and responding to malaria outbreaks, collaboration with local community members like Odinga Chitonka and Given Kasanga is critical.

Only 22 years old, Chitonka volunteers to help collect data by going house to house in Sinafala village. He is motivated to help because he believes Zambia has suffered for too long from this disease. Chitonka works with the Ministry of Health in a program coordinated by PATH and Zambia’s National Malaria Control Program. “The work of the community health worker is to treat everybody, and the work of the enumerator is to enter the information into the smart phones; after that, we give the medicine to everybody,” he explained.

Kasanga, a registered nurse, is also motivated to help because of the devastation he has seen as a nurse in rural Zambia, where he once witnessed a young patient die of the disease. “It was my first time seeing a child dying in my presence,” he recalled. “The child that died was 4 years old—almost the age of my son.”

Kasanga supports the Nega Nega neighborhood health committee’s efforts to test villagers for malaria and distribute mosquito nets. Since working with this program, Kasanga said he has noticed that the disease is becoming increasingly rare in the area. This success motivates his ongoing dedication. “I don’t want to see any other child dying from malaria,” he said.