To help end a leading cause of illness and death in the southern African country of Zambia, a Rotary club-led initiative has said that it aims to save and improve lives by empowering community health workers to test, diagnose and treat malaria.
Malaria, a preventable disease caused by a parasite spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes, disproportionately affects children under the age of five and pregnant women in rural populations.
To help end malaria in Zambia, The Rotary Foundation, World Vision USA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will each contribute $2 million for the Rotary-led Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia program. This $6 million program will add 2,500 community health workers to the national health system in Zambia, allowing for effective malaria diagnosis and treatment for more than 1.3 million people in ten of the most highly affected districts in Central and Muchinga provinces.
“By empowering community health workers, more people in areas with little to no access to health care will now be reached by trusted members of their communities,” said Bill Feldt, member of the Rotary Club of Federal Way in Washington, USA, who spearheaded the program. “This proven health care delivery model is effective and financially sustainable, and will bring lasting protection by reducing and eliminating this disease at the local level.”
Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia takes Rotary members’ commitment to eliminate malaria to the next level by building a longer-term, multi-stakeholder partnership on the ground in Zambia with the National Malaria Elimination Centre, provincial health leadership, PATH MACEPA and World Vision Zambia. Martha Lungu, executive director for Malaria Partners Zambia, an affiliate of Malaria Partners International, and member of the Rotary Club of Ndola (Zambia) said, “Every day I witness firsthand the effects of malaria. This program demonstrates that Rotary members are true partners in our communities and are focused on supporting community health workers to help loosen the grip malaria has on the Zambian people.”
Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia is the first awardee for Rotary’s Programs of Scale grant. In an annual competitive grant process, The Rotary Foundation, Rotary’s philanthropic arm, will award $2 million to an evidence-based program that aligns with one of Rotary’s causes and has the capability for scaling-up to help more people. The programs are sponsored by Rotary members in collaboration with local communities and partner organizations.