(Dar es Salaam) Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) today joins public health partners in hosting the kick off meeting for the China-Tanzania malaria project to be implemented for one year from November 2018 in Rufiji District, Coast Region.
The Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr. Faustine Ndugulile, graced this morning the meeting to officially kick of the project extension at Kilimanjaro Hotel in Dar es Salaam.
Present were public health stakeholders in the fight against malaria from China, the WHO country office, other international organizations, Ministry of Health, National Malaria Control Program and other local and central government officials.
The project aims to reduce the disease and deaths caused by malaria by strengthening the capacity of the local communities to control the disease. A strategy recommended by the WHO known as Test, Treat and Track “T3” will be integrated with the Chinese malaria control experience to explore the appropriate joint strategy and model that is tailored to the local settings.
Tanzania is still among African countries with high prevalence of malaria disease, and it is hoped that through this partnership, the Chinese success story in fighting the disease will be replicated to help Tanzania and other countries in the continent control and ultimately eliminate malaria.
Background: The China-Tanzania malaria project
The previous study to this one – the China-UK-Tanzania tripartite pilot project on malaria control – was implemented by the National Institute of Parasitic Diseases, China CDC and Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania from April, 2015 to June, 2018.
According to one of the scientists behind the project, Dr. Prosper Chaki, the main objectives of the project were to reduce malaria morbidity by 30% in 2018 compared with the 2015 baseline in the pilot communities, to strengthen the capacity of malaria control at the local level by adapting Chinese 1-3-7 malaria surveillance and response model, in combination with WHO-T3 Initiative in the pilot communities, and to explore appropriate model and mechanism for China’s support to contribute to the fight against malaria that could be scaled-up in Tanzania and other high malaria burden countries in Africa.
The program was implemented in the Rufiji District in Tanzania mainland covering 4 wards. These were divided into 2 arms; intervention arm- (Ikwiriri and Chumbi) wards and control arm-(Kibiti and Bungu) wards.
Through the joint efforts of Chinese and Tanzanian teams a new approach for malaria control was developed, termed as the 1-7 malaria Reactive Community-based Testing and Response (1-7mRCT). The approach utilized the existing health facility data combined with vector surveillance results to decide which priority clusters to conduct community testing and treatment on a weekly basis (1-7mRCT).
The program has demonstrated the feasibility to translate and adapt the Chinese experience on malaria control and prevention in high burdened areas. By the end of June, 2018, the parasite prevalence was reduced in intervention and control sites by 81% (from 25.7% in 2015 to 4.9% in 2018) and 52% (from 28.1% in 2015 to 13.4% in 2018), respectively.
However, there were observed challenges at the conclusion of the pilot project in June, 2018, which were: Lack of sustainability of key interventions in the intervention communities; the pilot project was not fully integrated with NMCP; and Lack of a plan for an exit strategy. To deal with these challenges, there is an urgent need to mobilize resources for sustaining the key intervention activities to prevent potential adverse consequences of withdrawing the interventions.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) China office received and approved the request from National Health Commission (NHC) to support a 12-month extension of the project authentication phase, beginning November 2018 to October 2019.
The main activities in this (2018-2019) phase will be: to continue the 1-7mRCT intervention in the intervention areas and integrate this approach with Tanzania NMCP, and to analyze, summarize and disseminate the best practices from 1-7mRCT approach with WHO-T3 Initiative to national and international stakeholders.
Other activities are: to develop the Tanzania Malaria proposal for scaling up “1-7 mRCT” in the context of effective China-Africa bilateral mechanism; to demonstrate an effective cooperation mechanism between China and Tanzania for malaria control and elimination and be a case study for other Sub-Saharan Africa countries under China’s south to south strategy. #