Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.
The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.
By George Kebaso - Kenya
“SMS for Life” is one example of how technology can be used to check the problem of malaria.
This has been made evident in a 'public-private' project that harnesses everyday technology to eliminate stock-outs and improve access to essential medicines in sub-Saharan Africa.
Susan Musyoki, who has worked as a nurse at Kola Health Centre in the Machakos district of Kenya, admits that for the last three months the facility has been able to monitor drug stocks more effectively than any other time.
She says the 'SMS for Life' initiative that is being piloted in Kenya and Ghana has “truly prevented drug stock-outs” since its inception in September this year.
With the help of IBM, Novartis , Vodafone and Roll Back Malaria and a partnership with the Ministry of Health, the 'SMS for Life' initiative is already bearing fruits in Tanzania where it is helping to save the lives of people residing in remote malaria prone areas of the East African nation.
In Kenya, it is being piloted in five districts namely, Machakos in Eastern Kenya, Manga in Nyanza, Vihiga in Western Kenya, Msambweni in the Coast of Kenya and Ijara
in the semi- arid North-Eastern part of the country.
Although there are no reported alarming incidences of malaria in Machakos as compared to Nyanza, Coast and parts of the Rift Valley, the 'SMS for Life' initiative has been instrumental in the reduction of drug stock-outs in the district especially in Kola dispensary where Musyoki works. She attributes its success to the user-friendly nature of the facility.
She however says that despite the ease of using the initiative, it needs to be complemented by ensuring that health centres have microscopy services.
“Well, this has been a very friendly method with limited difficulties, though there is a challenge with the efficiency and accuracy of the rapid diagnostic test (RDT'S) whereby a
microscopy examination is required to clear doubts,” Musyoki told 'Eyes on Malaria' during a survey to find out ow the initiative is working at its pilot stage in Machakos district.
The initiative was introduced in Machakos district in August through an organised seminar involving medical staff from various health facilities. And in September as it got a nod from the government through the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation's Division of Malaria Control (DOMC), 'SMS for Life' then was launched in the five districts.
According to the “SMS for Life" Program Director, Jim Barrington, the pilot stage will run for six months; and if found to be effective, the Kenyan government would then formally roll it out in March 2012 across the country.
“Maintaining adequate supplies of anti-malarial medicines at the health facility level in rural sub-Saharan Africa is a major barrier to effective management of the disease. Lack of visibility of anti-malarial stock levels at the health facility level is an important contributor to this problem,” said Barrington.
Barrington told 'Eyes on Malaria' during the launch of the system's pilot project in Kenya that the innovative system works well.
“An SMS is sent to one health worker at a health facility every Thursday by 2pm. Then the health workers are asked to reply with information on the drugs available in stock. The SMS is programmed with a message 'Please send your stock data of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and RDTS'. The worker also gets a reminder to send data within 24 hours,” says Barrington.
The information is sent to the District Medical Officer who then takes action during meetings every Monday morning.
The new SMS service also gives incentives for each reply with airtime valued at Ksh50.
Barrington says there would be no incentives however if the message has not been delivered by Friday evening. Surveillance Data is sent to 'SMS for Life' number 8428 every Monday and on Thursday information regarding the balances of all AL'S and RDT'S is sent to the same centre.
Essentially according to Barrington, the new initiative helps to track medical supplies to make sure they get to patients.
“The problem was that remote clinics often ran out of malaria medicine because central health facilities had no way of keeping track of how much supply the cl inics had,” says Vodafone's Global Head of Health Solutions, Joaquim Croca.
In Tanzania where the system is officially in use, once a week, rural clinics send a text message listing the amount of medicine they have in stock to heal th of f icials at central distribution sites. The information is displayed on a Google map and has enabled officials in the health sector to see which clinics are running low on supply versus those that still have plenty of medicine, and schedule deliveries accordingly.
The 21-week pilot study, 'SMS for Life', was undertaken during 2009- 2010 in three districts of rural Tanzania, involving 129 health facilities, covering a population of 1.2 million.
Undertaken through a collaborative partnership between Novartis, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, IBM, Vodafone and the Ministry for Health of Tanzania, SMS f o r L i f e u s e d m o b i l e telephones, SMS me s s a g e s a n d e l e c t r o n i c m a p p i n g t e c h n o l o g y t o facilitate provision of comprehensive and accurate stock counts from all health facilities to each district management team on a weekly basis.
The system covered stocks of the four different dosage packs of (AL) and quinine injectable. The data captured through the SMS stock count messages was available through a secure reporting website. The website was then accessed via the internet on a computer or a Blackberry or other smart mobile phone.
Stock count data was provided in 95 per cent of cases, on average. A high response rate was maintained throughout the pilot. The error rate for composition of SMS responses averaged 7.5 per cent throughout the study; almost al l errors were corrected and messages re-sent.
Data accuracy, based on surveillance visits to health facilities, was 94 per cent. District stock reports were accessed on average once a day. The proportion of health facilities with no stock of one or more antimalarial medicines fell from 78 per cent at week 1 to 26 per cent at week 21.
During the study, AL stocks increased by 64 per cent and quinine stock ncreased 36 per cent across the three districts.
At the end of the study, the partners concluded that the SMS for Life pilot provided visibility of anti-malarial stock levels to support more efficient stock management using simple and widely available SMS technology, via a public-private partnership model that worked highly effectively.
It further said that the system has the potential to alleviate restricted availability of anti-malarial drugs or other medicines in rural or under- resourced areas.
Prof. David Mwakyusa, former Tanzanian Minister for Health & Social Welfare, could not hide his joy when presented with the "SMS for Life" Pilot results.
"I'm grateful for what you are doing for my country – I lose a child every five minutes which is a waste from a d i s e a s e t h a t i s c omp l e t e l y preventable. This is a great project and an innovation that I support very much, it's exciting to me" he said.
Overall, the SMS for Life system was built to be a generic and highly scalable solut ion that can be leveraged to support any medicine or product, and can be implemented in any country with minimal tailoring.
The system could also be utilized for disease surveillance.