The malaria elimination programme run by the Mozambican Alliance Towards the Elimination of Malaria (MALTEM), an initiative of “la Caixa” Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, completed a third round of mass administration of antimalarial drugs on 21 December. The two previous rounds, carried out between December 2015 and February 2016, were administered to the inhabitants of the Magude District. In the latest round, the area of intervention was expanded to include the town of Xinavane in the Manhiça District, bringing the total number of people treated this time to over 47,000..
“This year the people in Magude were much more receptive because they already knew us from the previous campaigns”, explained Beatriz Galatas, the ISGlobal researcher who, together with the team at the Manhiça Health Research Centre, is coordinating the mass drug administration on the ground.
One of the great achievements of this third round of mass drug administration has been a reduction in the number of people refusing to accept the treatment. Compared to 10% in earlier rounds, this time only 3.5% of the people targeted by the campaign refused to take the antimalarials. This improvement was, in part, due to a change of strategy in the community awareness campaign, which was intensified and broadened, involving the population to a greater degree. The result was that more than 90% of the homes visited had already been informed about the mass drug administration campaign.
The malaria elimination programme also includes other essential interventions, such as activities aimed at reducing the population of the mosquito vector that transmits the disease. In an intervention carried out before the third round of mass drug administration, over 80% of the houses in Magude and Xinavane underwent indoor residual spraying with insecticide.
In January, there will be a fourth round of mass drug administration to the same population and this will be followed by a phase of active response to clinical malaria cases. When a case of clinical malaria is reported at the health centres in Magude or Xinavane, a team will go immediately to the patient’s home to test and medicate the family and everyone living within 150 metres.
At the same time, the researchers will also begin the task of analysing all the data collected from the first through to the fourth round of mass administration, and it is expected that preliminary results for the entire intervention will be available some time in August 2017.
The promoters of the MALTEM project visited Maputo last October for their annual meeting, which was attended by the two main sponsors, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and “la Caixa” Foundation<7b>. The meeting, at which the participants analysed the milestones achieved and obstacles encountered to date, took place at the same time the National Strategic Plan for Malaria 2017-2021 was being drafted. The work carried out by MALTEM has been important in ensuring that elimination is one of the fundamental components of the new National Plan for southern Mozambique.