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Photo credit: Transaid 2018

Severe Malaria Case Fatality Reduced by 96% in Pilot Project in Zambia led by Transaid, MMV and Partners

Transaid and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), in collaboration with a consortium of partners and the Zambian National Malaria Elimination Centre (NMEC), have completed the 12-month MAMaZ Against Malaria (MAM) program pilot with exceptional success – saving the lives of many children in Serenje district, Zambia.

During the pilot, severe malaria child case fatality was drastically reduced from 8% to 0.25%, with three recorded deaths during the 12-month study period compared to 97 deaths that would have been expected in this period.

All suspected severe malaria cases identified in the community were given quality-assured Rectal Artesunate Suppository (RAS) (the pre-referral drug used in the community) and subsequently referred to a health facility. In addition, the project’s Emergency Transport System (ETS) supported more than 70% of all suspected severe malaria cases, with 1,066 transfers made to a health facility.

Severe malaria is highly prevalent in children under the age of five in the Serenje District and delays in receiving appropriate treatment costs lives. The MAM program pilot set out to improve malaria case management by introducing RAS and increasing access to other key malaria medicines. To achieve this, it was also important to bolster the Emergency Transport System (ETS) by equipping communities with additional bicycle ambulances and training new riders.

Transaid and MMV worked in collaboration with the National Malaria Elimination Centre (NMEC) of Zambia to procure WHO-prequalified RAS (100mg). This drug gives children with suspected severe malaria an initial dose of artesunate, providing a 12-hour window to seek treatment at a health facility. Without RAS, children with severe malaria stand a greater risk of dying before they reach a health facility. Once at the health facility, children were then given injectable artesunate followed by a 3-day oral antimalarial treatment course.

Caroline Barber, CEO of Transaid and PtD Board Member, says: “The number of lives saved is a real testament to how important timely access to healthcare services is and we’re delighted to be able to share such excellent results and are now looking at how this approach can be scaled up across Zambia.”

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Beating Malaria in Zambia