By Meluse Kapatamoyo
Zambia is among African countries that have entered into a partnership with the United States of America to combat malaria incidence in women and children, a new report has announced.
The recently released Malaria Operational Plan (MOP) Zambia, says through the Global Health Initiative (GHI), the partnership would help Zambia scale up prevention and treatment interventions for malaria, the country’s top killer which accounts for about 50,000 deaths every year.
The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) is a core component of the GHI, along with HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis. The GHI is a comprehensive effort seeking to reduce the burden of disease and promote healthy communities and families around the world.
In December 2006, Zambia was selected as one of the benefiting countries to the five-year, $1.2 billion, PMI to rapidly scale-up malaria prevention and treatment interventions in high-burden countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Since then, Zambia has received approximately $79 million in PMI funding. But, although the country has recorded an improvement, malaria continues to be a burden and remains the major cause of morbidity and mortality in the country.
The PMI seeks to reduce malaria-associated mortality by 70 percent compared to pre-initiative levels in the 15 original PMI countries.
By 2014, PMI has committed itself to assisting Zambia achieve the following successes in populations at risk for malaria; 85 percent of pregnant women would have slept under an Insecticide-Treated Net (ITN), while a further 85 percent of houses in geographic areas targeted for Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) will have been sprayed.
In addition, 90 percent of households with a pregnant woman or child under five will own at least one ITN, and 85 percent of women who have completed a pregnancy in the last two years will have received two or more doses of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy (IPTp) during that pregnancy.
Furthermore, the report states that by the same year, 85 percent of government health facilities would have Artemisinin- based combination therapy (ACTs) available for treatment of uncomplicated malaria, while 85 percent of children under five with suspected malaria will have received treatment with ACTs within 24 hours of onset of their symptoms.
It is expected that by 2014, PMI would have purchased 440,000 replacement long lasting nets (LLINs) and distributed them free-of-charge through ante-natal clinics, and the Zambian Anglican Council (ZAC) with assistance from Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV).
About 70 percent of women in each of Zambia’s nine provinces who have completed a pregnancy in the last two years will have received two or more doses of IPTp during that pregnancy by the same year.
“The PMI will achieve this by increasing the demand for and delivery of IPTp through strengthened focused antenatal care (FANC) and behavior change communication (BCC) campaigns at both the community and national levels."