This week’s Fist Bump goes to VL Tanzania for their quick response in assisting the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program (ZAMEP) with their first-ever targeted, mini mass ITN distribution campaign. VL TZ already supports broad access to nets across Tanzania, including at health facilities, mass campaignsand school-based distribution. When malaria cases spiked and overall use of ITNs was shown to be low across three districts, PMI requested VL’s help in implementing a targeted ITN campaign outside the original work plan.
While macro planning for the distribution of ITNs in the targeted areas was envisaged before the COVID-19 pandemic, Zanzibar made programmatic changes to adapt and comply to the global recommended practices to prevent transmission of the virus to protect both net distributors and beneficiaries at the household level.
The nine-day campaign was launched by the Deputy Minister for Health in the presence of few spectators and media on June 6, 2020. Volunteers, who had been trained to register households, issued nets through a door-to-door approach as opposed to stationed issuing points as initially planned. Slightly more than 197,000 ITNs were issued to eligible households during the campaign. Targeted community mobilization activities were implemented before and during the issuing of nets primarily through public announcements.
The campaign was hugely successful thanks to strong coordination from ZAMEP leadership and the flexibility and willingness of all to adapt to new and challenging COVID-19 circumstances to support Zanzibar in its efforts to eliminate malaria.
Kudos, VL Tanzania!