Where Every Day is Malaria Day: Improving Malaria Control in Guinea

Carole Douglis

Senior Communications Manager

Until recently in the capital of Guinea, nearly everyone relied on private health facilities for malaria medicine. But the private facilities typically neither knew nor followed the country’s protocols for dispensing malaria drugs, so the disease was often misdiagnosed and mistreated. In addition, Guinea’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP)–charged with managing, coordinating, and leading malaria control efforts across the country—had not been able to integrate data from the private facilities into its health information systems, so a large part of the country’s malaria picture was missing from national data.

Since 2013, Dr. Youssoufa Lo, a Senior Technical Advisor with the USAID-funded Leadership, Management, and Governance NMCP Capacity Building Project (LMG/NMCP), has worked directly with the NMCP to improve the institution’s ability to lead, manage, and govern Guinea’s malaria control initiatives. The President’s Malaria Initiative funds Dr. Lo and senior technical advisors in six other countries.

In 2015, among other initiatives, Dr. Lo led the Leadership Development Program Plus (LDP+) with officials from the NMCP as well as managers of private health facilities.   In an LDP+, teams work together to choose a challenge and set an action plan to make a real difference in an aspect of public health.  Many of the LDP+ teams from the NMCP in Guinea focused on ensuring that private health facilities started dispensing malaria drugs according to the official protocol as well as improving data collection and reporting.

Bringing the private health facilities on board to correctly prevent and treat malaria

During the LDP+, the NMCP trained providers from private health facilities in malaria control and developed a Memorandum of Understanding that they signed, agreeing to use the protocols. The NMCP also offered medicines and mosquitos nets at a flat rate and organized coaching visits to all private facilities involved.

Today, at least 80 percent of the private health facilities in Ratoma and Matoto districts and the city of Conakry have applied national protocols for malaria care, routinely distribute mosquito nets, and coordinate with local health directorates.

Improving data reporting for better decisions

After the launch of the LDP+, the proportion of public and private sector health facilities that submitted reports rose from 50 to 89 percent, from May to August 2015. Those facilities submitting complete reports with validated data rose from 35 to 85 percent in the same three-month period.

Achievements recognized

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) honored Guinea earlier this year with a 2016 Award for Excellence: Most Improved in Malaria Control.  “For the first time in history, a malaria-free Africa is in sight,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, current chair of ALMA, citing progress in Guinea and other African countries. “The success…demonstrates that strong leadership is our most powerful weapon against this ancient and deadly disease.”

You can hear Dr. Lo speak of his experience here.

Learn more about the LMG/NMCP Project, or hear from Dr. Lo’s colleague, Kwabena Larbi, a Senior Technical Advisor to Liberia’s NMCP.