In 2014, the world’s largest-ever Ebola epidemic spread rapidly across West Africa, killing more than 11,000 people and infecting tens of thousands more.
Declared Ebola-free in June 2016, Guinea promptly set about strengthening its health system to prevent another outbreak, primarily by expanding the delivery of health services in rural communities. And the success of that strategy has been particularly apparent in the country’s progress against malaria, or, in French, paludisme.
Indeed, over the past five years, the government of Guinea has achieved impressive results in reducing the burden of malaria, including a sharp decline in malaria prevalence among children under five, substantially reduced annual incidence, and fewer inpatient deaths. And it’s done so in large part through StopPalu, a project launched in 2013 with funding from USAID under the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).
Implemented by RTI International in 14 of the country’s districts (préfectures) and the five communes of the capital, Conakry, StopPalu employed a community-driven approach to promote the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of malaria, one of the leading causes of illness and death in Guinea.
Under StopPalu, RTI helped train more than 1,400 volunteer community health workers (CHWs) on a set of skills collectively known as “malaria community case management.” Trained on the use of rapid diagnostic tests, CHWs first confirm whether a patient with a fever has malaria. And for those who test positive, CHWs are trained to administer artemisinin-based combination therapy, or ACT, and to refer severe malaria cases to health facilities.
Now, under StopPalu+, a follow-on of StopPalu launched in December 2017 that targets the same geographic areas, RTI continues to support Guinea’s National Malaria Control Program as it builds on that success, notably with the rollout of an ambitious campaign to distribute long-lasting insecticidal nets, or LLINs. The third such campaign since 2013, and Guinea’s largest ever, it’s a testament to forward-looking leadership and cooperation among a diverse group of stakeholders, who worked together to achieve a common goal.