April 2020

{Raian Amzad in the Control Room. Photo credit: MSH}Raian Amzad in the Control Room. Photo credit: MSH

Raian Amzad, a technical advisor with the DFID-funded Better Health in Bangladesh (BHB) project, and her colleagues took time away from their regular work to help Bangladesh’s central response to COVID-19. Here’s how the project and the country are handling the pandemic threat. 

Can you tell me about your recent work assignment related to COVID-19? What did your typical day look like?

On March 17, the Directorate General of Health Services opened a temporary Integrated Control Room for COVID-19 response. Fifteen different groups are working there. I was in one with other developmental partners.

The control room guides, supervises, and monitors the entire country in responding to COVID-19; facilitating meetings with donors; disseminating awareness messages and myth busters for the public; developing guidelines for the health workforce; and coordinating logistics, commodities, and media outreach. I have been engaged in all sorts of tasks, and it was enlightening to work so closely with the government health system. 

{Retsilake, a community health volunteer in Madagascar, uses a mobile app to carry out epidemiological surveillance of malaria and other diseases at the community level. Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH}Retsilake, a community health volunteer in Madagascar, uses a mobile app to carry out epidemiological surveillance of malaria and other diseases at the community level. Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

A conversation with Dr. Bernard Nahlen, Director of the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame and member of the MSH Board of Directors  

{Dr. Bernard Nahlen}Dr. Bernard NahlenSome countries are entering peak malaria transmission season over the next few months, overlapping with the COVID-19 pandemic. How might the crisis affect ongoing malaria eradication efforts? 

One issue is case management. As a reminder, there were more deaths due to malaria than to Ebola in West Africa in 2014, because people were reluctant to go to clinics for treatment for fevers and aches. And in many areas communities began to protest that, while their children continued to become ill and die of malaria, suddenly there was a single focus on Ebola. We may see something similar with COVID-19. 

Story by Samy Rakotoniaina and Misa Rahantason

Malaria is one of the leading causes of mortality among children under five in Madagascar. Atsimo Andrefana is one of Madagascar’s regions most severely impacted by endemic malaria. More than half of the population in this region lives more than five kilometers from the nearest health facility, putting Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) on the front lines in the fight against malaria.

Retsilake is one of the 6,000 high-performing CHVs supported by the USAID-funded Accessible Continuum of Care and Essential Services Sustained (ACCESS) project. ACCESS is implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), in partnership with a consortium of international and local organizations, and alongside Madagascar’s Ministry of Public Health. The project is partly funded by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).

Retsilake diagnosed and treated nearly 2,000 children from his village and the surrounding area during a particularly severe malaria outbreak in 2015. He understands the impacts of malaria on children's health and this keeps him motivated to serve his community.

{The USAID MTaPS Program is supporting the Philippines in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring the availability of quality health commodities in communities. Photo credit: MTaPS staff}The USAID MTaPS Program is supporting the Philippines in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring the availability of quality health commodities in communities. Photo credit: MTaPS staff

Andre Zagorski of the MSH-led, USAID-funded MTaPS Program talks about the program's urgent work to help contain the virus in more than a dozen countries.

{Andre Zagorski} Andre ZagorskiHow did you and MTaPS rally to support USAID’s call for a rapid response to COVID-19 in a dozen countries? What were the challenges? 

MTaPS is the USAID Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) go-to program for infection prevention and control (IPC), and we have been implementing activities to strengthen health systems for stronger IPC programs in 10 countries since the MTaPS award in 2018. We have offices and small but strong professional teams in these countries and have established productive working relations with national stakeholders and partners.