World Malaria Day: How Participants from UGHE’s GHDLP Program are Finding Ways to Fight this Deadly Disease
Back in February and ahead of country-wide lockdown in Rwanda, UGHE welcomed its first-ever Francophone cohort to Butaro Campus for the Global Health Delivery Leadership Program (GHDLP). Participants of this program hailed from seven different Francophone African countries – Congo, Mali, Niger, Central African Republic, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Chad – and comprised of mid-to senior-level health system leaders from governmental, non-governmental and civil society organizations looking to develop their skills in managing high-value, equitable health programs globally.
During their time in Rwanda, each participant country group identified a key challenge facing their country in day-to-day program delivery, and a six-month ‘Breakthrough Project’ to address it, supported by a UGHE coach providing technical support and mentorship. In recognition of World Malaria Day, we are highlighting the Breakthrough Project of the Central African Republic group – consisting of Parfait Constant Seboulo, Noelly Dominique Marcelle Donon Kpagnami Nee Douma, Mariette Claudia Adame Gbanzi, and Marie Charlotte Banthas Bata Nee Sana Ifolo – and what impact Coronavirus is having on its progress.
Q. What malaria-related issue is your Breakthrough Project addressing, and what is the ultimate ambition for the project?
A. The challenge we are addressing is that in 2019, 75% of children under 5 suffering from malaria do not receive the appropriate treatment according to national protocols for health facilities. Our Breakthrough Project aims to reduce by 75% to 50% the number of children under the age of 5 suffering from malaria who have not received appropriate treatment according to national protocols by the end of 2021. In order to do this, we’ll evaluate the increases in this treatment in 6 months in order to highlight the main interventions. This will enable us to reach our goal.
Q. With the world focus currently on COVID-19, why is it still vital that we focus our attention on malaria?
A. We are really passionate about this project because whilst malaria is an old disease, it is one that continues to ravage the most vulnerable populations, especially children under 5 years old and pregnant women. It is well known that the drug for treatment of malaria exists, as does the means of prevention, but yet malaria remains the first cause of morbidity and mortality among children in our country.
Q. COVID-19 is causing global disruption. What are the challenges your team are facing during this pandemic?
A. Thank you for the opportunity to present our project on World Malaria Day, which is being celebrated at a time when the Coronavirus pandemic is gaining momentum in our country, and the number of cases is increasing daily. This worrying situation has had an impact on everyone, including us because the presidential measures to mitigate the risks of contagion linked to this disease do not allow us to frequently work together to make normal, sustained progress in our work. The other challenge we face is that each one of us, in one way or another, is mobilized in the management of the epidemic, given its global magnitude.
Q. It was great to have your group with us in Rwanda back in February. Despite the COVID-19 restrictions mentioned, what progress on the project have you made since, and how are you applying the learnings from the GHDLP program?
For the moment we have achieved the research protocol. We shared this with our coach who suggested that we complete a full study of the level of preparation of our health facilities to cope with COVID-19. We considered this very relevant because these same facilities and providers are the ones that will work to treat the confirmed cases of COVID-19. We have also assessed the different research stakeholders (targets), including the parents of the children (mothers, or dependants of the children of less than 5 years), care providers and program managers. The GHDLP program supports us by providing us with a coach who helps us in the realization of this project. Our first phone contact with our mentor allowed us to better define the problem we had at hand, and to help us see which specific areas we can direct our investigation towards. Our mentor also helped us to take into account this new epidemic which can also worsen the situation for malaria. Therefore, the subject of our research will be slightly modified according to this orientation – the link between the two is crucial, and we hope the final outcome of our project will bring considerable value.
Subject to lockdown restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we look forward to welcoming this group, amongst other groups, back to Rwanda to consolidate their projects in August. Read more about UGHE’s GHDLP program, and its modules here.