The Women in Charge: Leading the Fight to End Malaria
Effective leadership is vital for successful malaria control interventions. On this World Malaria Day, the PMI VectorLink project is highlighting five female leaders across positions and countries to showcase their roles, inspiration, challenges, and advice for aspiring female leaders dedicated to ending malaria once and for all.
2021 was a busy year for the PMI VectorLink Project. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges associated with it, the project continued to deliver high-quality malaria control interventions. We published articles, malaria fighter profiles, success stories, videos, as well as hosted four webinars to showcase our work. As we begin the new year, let’s look back at some of our achievements in 2021 that have helped reduce the burden of malaria.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge public health workers implementing malaria interventions across the globe. In Mali, ongoing civil unrest added to those challenges, putting critical vector control services at risk. The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project supports countries to conduct indoor residual spraying (IRS) to kill and repel the mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite, which can infect people and cause serious illness and death. PMI VectorLink Mali collaborated closely with communities to ensure people were protected from malaria despite these challenges.
PMI VectorLink Mali communicated regularly by phone with local administrative authorities and community leaders to effectively monitor the security situation in the areas it sprays. When security issues prevented spray teams from adhering to the planned spray operations, the village chiefs were contacted by the spray team to reschedule the spray date, and the project closely tracked the ongoing security situation.
The local administrative authorities also played an important role in increasing community awareness and acceptance of IRS. For example, PMI VectorLink Mali engaged village chiefs and their deputies to ensure homeowners were prepared to accept IRS. One day before the arrival of the spray team, under the authority and direction of the village chief, the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) mobilizer went door to door providing important information to the community about IRS and reminded homeowners how to prepare their houses for spraying.
In previous years, PMI VectorLink Mali came across homes in rural areas that were locked due to people working in agricultural fields when the spray teams arrived. However, this year, thanks to community collaboration, homeowners were well prepared, and PMI VectorLink Mali was able to safely conduct the spray campaign. As a result, PMI VectorLink Mali successfully completed the 2021 IRS campaign, protecting approximately 233,663 people, including 45,249 children under five years old, and 17,768 pregnant women. The team exceeded its target spray coverage of 85% to reach 96.7% spray coverage during the campaign as a result of the strong relationship and trust the project has built with local partners and beneficiaries.
“We trust that once again this year, thanks to IRS, there will be fewer and fewer cases of malaria in our community,” said Sogoba Dembele, President of the Women’s Association in Bounguel, Djenne District. “As mothers, we are very pleased for that because it will prevent us from spending our time in hospitals, which gives us time for taking care of our daily business for the well-being of the whole family.”