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World Malaria Day 2013: Defeating Malaria

Test. Treat. Track.

On World Malaria Day in 2012, the World Health Organisation launched the T3 ‘Test. Treat. Track.’ initiative to reinforce the fight against malaria. In partnership with the Global Fund and the Oil Search Health Foundation, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) National Department of Health is strengthening T3 in health facilities around the country, improving diagnosis, treatment and recording of malaria.

Significant improvements have been made in reducing malaria in PNG in recent years. But the country continues to have the highest malaria mortality in the Pacific. The Oil Search Health Foundation is endeavouring to bring T3 to the village level with its Marasin Stoa Kipa project (Medicine Store Keepers, or MSK).

Marasin Stoa Kipas

The MSK project is an innovative approach to providing early diagnosis and treatment of malaria in rural parts of PNG where for many people access to health centres can be challenging. The Oil Search Health Foundation trains local women in basic malaria diagnosis using a Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) and supplies them with pre-packaged malaria medication. These village treatment providers are called Marasin Stoa Kipas (MSKs). In the village, MSKs can be the first point of contact for people seeking diagnosis (‘Test’) and treatment (‘Treat’) of malaria, especially when a health facility is far away. MSKs also collect malaria blood slides for each case for laboratory analysis to enable quality assurance monitoring and determining the

program’s effectiveness (‘Track’). By training village residents, the program creates immediate access to malaria testing, treatment and tracking (T3) in the heart of rural communities.

The innovative character of the MSK project is found in its franchised social business model. It provides life-saving malaria treatment close to home, and by supporting female MSK operators to build their enterprise in the village, the program aids in addressing social development goals like reducing poverty and improving gender equality. At the same time MSKs are increasingly expanding their services by selling additional ‘over the counter’ health and hygiene products to supplement their income.

The Oil Search Health Foundation is leading the MSK project in the Kutubu area in the Southern Highlands, where it started as a pilot in 2006. In this area some 945 people accessed the service in 2012, which is down from 2,500 people in 2010. This strong decline of malaria in the project area points to the project’s effectiveness to provide improved malaria control at the village level. As a result of the MSK project’s success the National Department of Health has endorsed an expanded pilot of the project. The Oil Search Health Foundation has therefore partnered with Morobe Mining Joint Venture to implement the project in communities around the mining project. As malaria varies widely across the county, the Oil Search Health Foundation is currently exploring further sites and additional partners to continue to expand the project.

Take Action. Defeat Malaria.

This year the theme for World Malaria Day is ‘Invest in the future. Defeat malaria.’ On the global and national level this ‘investment rationale’ is targeted at allocating more funds to the fight against malaria. But investing in the future to defeat malaria also carries a strong message for communities, villages and individuals. They, too, can ‘invest in the future’ to defeat malaria, simply by adhering to the following principles:

Seek advice about malaria and know its common symptoms.

Feeling unwell? Get tested immediately.

Get early medical treatment to prevent the spread of malaria.

Make sure everybody in the community follows these principles, so malaria can be controlled and eradicated.

It is important to note that while mosquitos transmit the disease, it is people that maintain the parasites in their bodies if they do not seek treatment. If you and your community take malaria seriously, you can educate each other about the common symptoms, encourage immediate testing and ensure everyone seeks early medical treatment. In this way, you too are investing in the future of your community by controlling malaria.

Take action by downloading and printing these posters,  put them up in your community, invest in your future, and defeat malaria.

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Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom is the Manager of Business Intelligence and Communication for the Oil Search Health Foundation. He looks after the development of comprehensive reporting procedures, researches pro-active approaches to public health, and explores strategic avenues to expand the Foundation’s reach to global stakeholders. Tim has worked for Pacific Friends of the Global Fund where he looked after the interests of the Global Fund in the Asia-Pacific region and has completed a doctoral thesis on food security in Kenya.

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