As endemic countries scale up interventions against malaria, widespread declines in burden have been reported, bringing a ray of hope that the scourge can be finally eliminated in the not-too-distant future. However, the declines have been far from universal, both between and within countries, and some areas have contemporaneously experienced increase, or rebound after initial decline.
Zimbabwe has a track record of a comprehensive malaria control programme spanning more than 60 years. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) has been the mainstay vector control approach, complemented with prompt diagnosis and treatment. Once availed funding support from the Global Fund and other partners, Zimbabwe also embarked on the current scaled up malaria interventions with vector control and ACT, resulting in substantial malaria reduction in large areas of the country, including former problem districts. However, in Manicaland Province, especially in Mutasa district, the malaria scourge proved a puzzling challenge, rebounding relentlessly the more control measures were scaled up. Most notably, the resurgence defied overlapping indoor residual spraying (IRS) and long lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) interventions.
In this virtual discussion we hear the lessons learnt from Mutasa through the voice of the national control programme personnel at the battlefront and how with partnership from the Southern Africa ICEMR team, PMI and others, the tide may be finally turning against the formidable disease.
We’re grateful to have the following panelists to lead our discussion:
• Clive Shiff, PhD, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
• Maureen Coetzee, PhD, Professor, University of Witzwatersrand
• Richard Hunt, PhD, Professor University of Witzwatersrand
• Susan Mutambu, PhD, Director, National Institute of Health Research, Zimbabwe
Our panelists will offer insight on the following questions:
1. What were the biggest challenges for controlling malaria in Mutasa district and how did the disease upsurge in spite of double intervention with IRS and LLINs ?
2. What measures were taken to address these challenges?
3. What lessons can we learn from these efforts to scale up control measures? How can these be applied to different settings and to what extent are the encountered obstacles likely to be impacting other malaria regions? etc.
4. What lessons can be drawn regarding the impact of direct partnership between research and control programmes?
We look forward to a rich discussion next week–please join the conversation and share your questions or comments for our panelists.