Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Freight and Logistics Transport Charity Determined to Battle Malaria in Children

Your Chance to Beat a Scourge Which Kills Almost Half a Million Annually
Shipping News Feature
UK – ZAMBIA – The UK based transport charity Transaid has gone to war with malaria in Zambia. Having successfully trialled the MAMaZ project in partnership with others last year achieving an astounding 96% reduction in childhood fatalities using Rectal Artesunate Suppository (RAS) medication on every suspected case in conjunction with the charity's Emergency Transport System (ETS), something made possible by the generosity of the UK's freight and logistics sector donations, changes are being undertaken.

Now the entire operation is to be scaled up after securing matched funding from Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) and the Government of Canada that will allow the project to benefit around four times as many people living in rural Zambia, from 54,000 to 200,000. Transaid, along with a consortium of partners comprising Development Data, DAI Global Health, Disacare, and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) are working with the National Malaria Elimination Centre (NMEC) in Zambia.

Transaid are always seeking new funding and can demonstrate a clear and unambiguous record of success, the bicycle ambulances supplied by the charity save lives year on year in Africa, particularly when pregnant women need access to distant hospital facilities, plus the driver training schemes which ensure professional standards amongst local volunteers.

Although aid is freely given, just this year the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA), to celebrate its 75th Anniversary Year, pledged to raise £75,000 for the cause, more assistance is always welcome, whether by donation or supporting one of the regular events such as the upcoming Royal Parks Half Marathon in London (registration closes May 15) or one of the bicycle challenges in 2020 from Land’s End to John O’Groats or even across Malawi!

The latest phase of the battle to defeat malaria, MAMaZ against Malaria at Scale, sees Transaid and the rest of the consortium working in collaboration with NMEC to procure World Health Organisation (WHO) quality assured RAS used to help manage severe malaria in children less than six years old at a community level, before they are referred to a healthcare facility to receive injectable artesunate.

Once a suspected severe malaria case has been identified in the community and RAS administered, the child will be referred to a health facility and transported by bicycle ambulance. During the pilot phase, Transaid’s emergency transport scheme made 1,066 transfers to a health facility, with local volunteers riding bicycle ambulances placed strategically within local communities. Transaid's CEO Caroline Barber, explained:

“Together with our partners, this new 18-month project will see us supporting a four-fold increase in population coverage with the potential to reach five districts, 200 communities and 38 health facilities, and save hundreds more lives. The consortium will provide strategic and technical support to NMEC as Zambia transitions to scale.”

The upgraded MAM@Scale programme has already been initialised and is expanding project operations to those five districts and therefore creating a substantial increase in population coverage. The team have already set-up project offices in Lusaka and in the two ‘demonstration districts’ of Chitambo and Serenje and the procurement of 9,000 packs (18,000 vials) of RAS to give the children infected a twelve hour window to reach a health facility ready for the start of RAS training.

The training phase has also started in earnest. Community RAS training for 31 district master trainers has been successfully delivered as well as the delivery of 18 four-day community trainings for Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) who administer the RAS to children with suspected malaria in their communities. 30 new bicycle ambulances have been produced and delivered to Chitambo district, and 141 ETS riders are currently undergoing training.

If you have ever thought you could do more to assist others and searched for a meaningful way to do so a run round the London parks, or a life changing ride across the African veldt (or simply a donation) might be the way to both salve your conscience and really make a difference to eliminating a disease which affected 217 million people last year, killing 435,000 of the most vulnerable.

Photo: The bicycle ambulance production line is in full swing with (inset) an ambulance and volunteer in action.