Empowering Health Workers to Rapidly Diagnose and Treat Malaria Among Children in Mwanza, Tanzania

 {Photo credit: Brooke Huskey/MSH.}Cecilia tracks medication usage to prevent stock-outs of medicines and supplies at the Kiloleli Dispensary, Mwanza, Tanzania.Photo credit: Brooke Huskey/MSH.

Cecilia Lunda has wanted to be a nurse since she was a little girl when her mother, a nurse, sparked Lunda's passion for helping people. As she grew up, Lunda studied hard and made her dream come true—she has worked as a nurse at the Kiloleli Dispensary in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania for four years.

But early in her career at Kiloleli, Lunda felt helpless when parents brought their children to the dispensary with a fever. Diagnostic tests and artemisinin-based combination therapy, the recommended treatment for malaria, were frequently out of stock, so she often had no way to test for or treat malaria. Lunda was unable to help the sick children, and the community lost confidence in the dispensary.

In 2012, the Tibu Homa project teamed up with the Kiloleli Dispensary to solve their problems with stock outs. Tibu Homa, funded by US Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by University Research Co., LLC, the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), and Management Sciences for Health (MSH), helped Kiloleli Dispensary staff develop better process flow maps and a better system to manage their stock of medicines and supplies. Through Tibu Homa training and ongoing mentoring, staff learned to encourage parents to bring their children to the dispensary within 24 hours of the onset of fever for testing and treatment. The dispensary set up a system to maintain health records for all patients and to review those records to ensure that treatments meet national standards. Staff can now fill out and submit reports and stock request forms, track medication usage and inventory, and properly store medical supplies. The dispensary uses rapid malaria diagnostic tests to test all children with fever and provides appropriate medicines as necessary.

Since the initial training two years ago, Kiloleli Dispensary has not had a stock-out of rapid diagnostic tests or artemisinin-based combination therapy and Cecilia has seen a 400 percent increase in people coming to the dispensary.

“Parents now come because there is testing and supplies are available,” Lunda explained.

As a result of Tibu Homa’s on-the-job training and ongoing mentorship, Lunda has control of the facility’s stock and confidently encourages parents to bring sick children to the facility because she knows she will have the necessary supplies to care for them. She said:

Now as a health worker, we’re more confident because we can test, diagnose, and children get better and are not dying.