Towards Malaria Elimination: Strengthening the Quality of Malaria Diagnostic Services in Sao Tome and Principe – African Business
Malaria can be prevented, treated, and cured. Without prompt diagnosis and effective treatment, malaria may progress to a more severe form of the disease. The WHO African Region is responsible for a large proportion of the global burden of malaria. 2021 will host 95% of cases and 96% death. The following African countries are part of the E2025, which focuses on malaria elimination: South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. WHO recommends that countries participating in the elimination of malaria must have a core group WHO-certified expert microscopists in order to ensure quality malaria diagnosis.
Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial to reduce mortality and morbidity due to malaria. Every microscopist must be certified and regularly assessed for their competence to diagnose accurately. The competence assessment should include the detection of malaria parasites, identification of malaria parasite species and quantification.
In the past two decades, Sao Tome and Principe have succeeded in reducing the incidence of malaria in the country. The annual incidence of malaria is currently at 18/1000. The country was aiming to eliminate malaria by 2025. The country has been experiencing an increase in malaria cases over the past three year.
WHO in partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria supported the Ministry of Health in Sao Tome and Principe to conduct an External Competency Assessment for Microscopists from 09 – 20 January 2023 to ensure there is a pool of WHO certified expert malaria microscopists in the country that contribute to the national malaria elimination agenda. This workshop was the first to be held in Sao Tome and Principe.
The two-week ECAMM training for 12 national Microscopists included one day of refresher training as well as one week to assess. Dr. Mamadou Alpha Diallo and Prof. Ndiaye Daouda, two experts from University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD), a WHO collaboration center for malaria prevention in francophone and lusophones-speaking nations, conducted the training as well as the evaluation. This ECAMM resulted to three or two microscopists becoming certified for level 1, 2 or 4, and nine others becoming certified for levels 3 or 4. Sao Tome & Principe now have three WHO-certified microscopists. This is a great score for a small country with only 220,000 inhabitants. Professor Daouda Ndiaye (director of ECAMM courses) reiterated the University of Cheik Anta Diop of Dakar in Senegal’s commitment to continue supporting Sao Tome and Principe in malaria microscopy.
WHO Country Representative Dr. Françoise Bigirimana stated in her speech during the closing ceremony that WHO will continue to provide technical support to build capacity and maintain the competency level of microscopists and other human resources for health in the country. She stressed the need for effective skill-based trainings and periodic assessment and monitoring to ensure that performance in the area diagnosis of malaria and other priority disease in the country is maintained. WHO is committed in supporting the country to fight and eradicate diseases and to progress towards Universal Health Coverage within the contexts of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Closing the workshop, the Minister of Health, Célsio Junqueira, emphasized that the final stage of elimination is more challenging and demanding. He emphasized the importance of human resource for health and called on the government to increase the involvement of microscopists in the elimination of malaria in the country. He also acknowledged the South-to-South cooperation between African countries like Senegal and Sao Tome and Principe to implement this ECAMM.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Sao Tome and Principe.
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