Malaria/Ebola! “Sierra Leone making progress”- Says Foreign Assessment Mission.
By Jonathan Abass kamara
The two cycles Mass Drugs Administration Malaria Campaign implemented by the National Malaria Control Programme, Ministry of Health and Sanitation with Technical support by WHO in collaboration with MSF,UNICEF and other partners have been rated as successive emergency response campaigns in Sierra Leone.
The high Level visiting International Technical mission after the end of the 2nd cycle campaign on Wednesday January 21, 2015 at a meeting with Roll Back Malaria partners on the MDA Implementation noted during their assessment that the distribution of the Anti-Malaria dugs in Areas affected by the Ebola Virus disease outbreak successfully reached more than 2.5 million People. The team also noted that the campaign significantly reduced the number of People with fever that might be mistaken for Ebola Virus Disease.
In their efforts, to reduces the Malaria transmission and related deaths, over 8,000 health workers were mobilized and put into the door-to-door fight in eight Ebola hot spots in the Kambia, Port Loko, Koinadugu, Moyamba, Tonkolili, Bombali, Western Area Urban and Rural districts by the Health Ministry and partners. Communities responded positively resulting to a higher figure than expected.
Dr. Samuel Juana Smith is the Programme Manager, National Malaria Control Programme. He described Malaria as a Perennial problem in Sierra Leone, and a major public health problem causing thousands of deaths every year. The Malaria MDA intervention he told the mission was done to reduce the number of febrile patients in the community so that people with Malaria fever would not be taken to Ebola Holding Centers to avoid risk of contracting the disease.
Messaging, access to some hard to reach area, Population density, non-compliance, the Ebola and Malaria signs and symptoms similarity were some of the challenges encountered though considerably overcome to reach the target goal, opined Dr. Smith.
The need for real communication strategy, the management of potential outcomes for the use of drugs were addressed by the Chief Registrar of the Pharmacy Board, Mr. Wiltshire Johnson whose contribution in the Ebola fight has made significant impact.
A Ride on the Wings of Ebola
The three-man WHO Global Malaria mission headed by the Director, Dr. Pedro Alonso sees the MDA intervention as a ride on the wings of the Ebola to scale it down to death, and had this to say: “With the current Ebola outbreak and its impact on the health system, we estimate that without this sort of pre-emptive intervention, Malaria deaths could potentially double”
“We have reasons to believe that the distribution of the Anti-Malarial medicines has a profound positive impact on the transmission of Malaria and the number of suspected cases attending Ebola Holding Centers,” says Dr. Alonso.
The three-man team which included Diagnostic Coordinator, Dr. Andrea Bosman, Scientist, Strategy Economics and Examination Unit, WHO Global Malaria Programme, Dr. Maru Aregani lauded the government in the fight to contain the Ebola virus Disease in the country. “The MDA is indeed a ride on the tragic wings of Ebola” Reiterated Indian Scientist, Professor Anindita Mohanty