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How MRDT accelerates impact in tackling malaria

TANZANIA has the third largest population at risk of malaria in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with over 90 percent of the population residing in high risk transmission areas.

However, in Kigoma, the number of malaria cases that are recorded at Kiganamo Health Centre in Kasulu District has been going down, thanks to the proper implementation of USAID Boresha Afya project in the area.

The statistics from the health centre show that the number of cases has been dropping gradually, where before the introduction of the project, the centre recorded an average of 200 cases monthly. However, from January the statistics changed to better.

In January the centre recorded 130 malaria patients, and February were 158, and March 147 patients were diagnosed to have been infected with malaria. Moreover, in April the number of malaria patients was 147, May 151, June recorded 149 and July 139 patients.

For Flora Alfred (26), a resident of Nyamoli village in Kasulu District, life has completely changed thanks to the project. The mother of six says unlike before, her children are no longer under threats of contracting malaria. She says, previously, the situation was very bad as her children used to suffer from time to time.

The young lady is among thousands of wananchi who now understand the importance of diagnosing malaria before giving medicine to their children. “I thank God and health service providers, they have opened our eyes regarding malaria testing and other related challenges,” she says.

Adding: “I make sure my children sleep in a treated mosquito net, and when they fall sick, the first thing I do is to take them to hospital for medical examination and later test,” she explained. Despite being keen on using a treated net whenever she goes to bed along with her children, Ms Flora said that she, at times, endures bites of mosquito before bed time.

“Sometimes we are bitten before bed time, and it happens, children remove the net from the bed, so they get bitten,” she says.

According to the Tanzania Malaria Indicator Survey 2017 (TMIS 2017), 76 per cent of each of the households owns at least one mosquito treated net, the prevalence of malaria stands at 24 per cent, surpassing all other regions in the country.

However, Ms Flora admits that things have changed after the USAID Boresha Afya was introduced in their area. She says health services have been improved at Kiganamo Health Centre and that health service providers attend to them within a short time.

“I think the centre has been equipped, this was not like before, the officers are also competent, and we enjoy the services here,” she says. Mr Hussein Idd, a Clinician at Kiganamo Health Centre said the centre has set a convincing record in the period of seven months; a situation that shows clearly that the diseases is under control.

He said the decrease of malaria cases has been contributed by the increased awareness among wananchi on the problem. “We see all these changes because some people are doing a good job from the family level, people are being educated on the danger of malaria and the importance of testing malaria at health centres,” he said.

Mr Idd admits that USAID Boresha Afya has enabled health service providers to attain knowledge and skills on how to handle complicated issues and save lives. “This project helps us a lot at our centre and the entire community, we are happy that it was introduced at a time when we needed the support,” noted Mr Idd.

Uses of MRDTs

Malaria Rapid Diagnosis Test (MRDTs) assists in the diagnosis of malaria by providing evidence of the presence of malaria parasites in human blood. RDTs are an alternative to diagnosis based on clinical grounds or microscopy, particularly where good quality microscopy services cannot be readily provided.

Malaria RDTs were introduced in Tanzania by the Ministry of Health in 2008. The diagnostic test does not require a laboratory setting and can be performed by minimally trained personnel who are not laboratory technicians.

The Acting Regional Medical Officer (RMO) for Kigoma, Mr Kiza Kiseka said MRDTs are very rapid in diagnosing malaria and that the results can be obtained within 20 minutes. The project among other things has helped service providers to open up their mind with new skills and expertise.

The project also has facilitated the availability of MRDTs. With MRDTs the centre has been able to attend to many patients within a short time.

About malaria

Malaria is a disease transmitted by a mosquito. The mosquito bite introduces parasites from the mosquito’s saliva into a person’s blood. Then, parasites travel to the liver where they mature and reproduce. Only some mosquitoes carry malaria.

The ones that do are called “Anopheles” and they bite mostly at dusk and during the night. Such Mosquitoes must have been infected through a previous blood meal taken from an infected person. Malaria is not transmitted from person to person, except during pregnancy from mother to child.

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