Regional Malaria CSO Platform, GMS
Issue # 5 # October 2020

Malaria CSO platform, GMS update:

Strengthening community network in Thailand

Empowering the disease-affected communities in the decision-making process becomes a necessity when it comes to meaningful community engagement. The CSO Platform, with the support of the American Refugee Committee (ARC), has strengthened four communities and civil society networks in districts of Kanchanaburi and Ranong province, Thailand, bordering Myanmar during September and October. Paying attention to the voices of malaria vulnerable and affected communities can benefit strategic planning and decision-making of malaria interventions. By doing so, limited resources can be prioritized to the risk populations such as mobile, migrant, ethnic, and vulnerable communities who live in remote, conflict, and border areas. The community network was strengthened with key stakeholders, including representatives from the vector-borne disease center, district hospitals, to ensure smooth coordination and communication for the health services beyond malaria. The stakeholders discussed strategies to improve providing health services for the vulnerable communities. At the end of the workshops, the groups agreed to connect in LINE group (social media application) to share information and update the malaria situation and plan the activities accordingly in the village.

Read more – Kanchanaburi and Ranong reports

The CSO Platform participation at malaria week

 The CSO Platform, its partner APLMA, APMEN, and Comic Relief, co-hosted the “community engagement session” to discuss sustaining malaria interventions during a pandemic – the critical role of community-based approaches in health systems strengthening. The Health Poverty Action, Medical Action Myanmar, and Malaria consortium shared their best practices and lessons learned of community engagement activity, which can be useful for other regions to generalize. The key takeaways include: community malaria workers to be the backbone of delivering integrated health services focusing on UHC and financial protection, empower the community to actively participate in the decision-making process, meaningfully engage community near cross border areas, strengthen partnership among critical stakeholders, and committed political will to support malaria elimination.
Country update:
During September and October, CSOs in GMS countries are kept delivering the essential malaria services, including LLIN distribution, malaria testing and treatment, health education sessions with the support of national malaria programs, UNOPS, and WHO. Through the relaxation of some restrictions in Vietnam, CSOs have been resuming the in-person training following the government’s regulations.

Population Services International, Myanmar
The success story of Plasmodium Vivax outbreak response in Waimaw Township, Kachin State

 In June, three villages in Waimaw Township, Kachin State, experienced a sudden increase of Plasmodium vivax with 1,278 cases, nine-fold compared to April. In the last week of June, led by NMCP, together with Civil society organizations (CSOs) conducted outbreak investigation and took immediate required responses, including reactive case detection, health education sessions, LLIN distributions, LLIN efficacy test, IRS, vector surveillance and refresher training in the outbreak villages. The investigation results found that the reasons are mainly contributed by the returnees of more than 10,000 mobile-migrants from banana plantation sites to villages and poor preventive practices toward malaria. Due to COVID-19 related restrictions, the CSOs could not provide onsite volunteer supervision and active case detection. However, CSOs have closely monitored the malaria cases and supervised the ICMVs and private providers through phone and shared the weekly data to the national programs since July. CSOs, in particular, PSI, appointed two more private outlet providers in the outbreak areas to control the malaria situation. Due to a well-coordinated mechanism among CSOs and national programs and rapid appropriate intervention measures, the malaria cases went down drastically from 1,278 in June to 239 in September.

Raks Thai Foundation, Thailand
Findings on increased malaria cases in Prachuap Kiri Khan Province

Prachuap Kiri Khan, Thailand, bordering southern Myanmar, has seen an annual increase in malaria cases from October 2017 to September 2020 (FY18 = 74, FY19 = 174, FY20 = 289). To better understand the factors contributing to this increasing malaria incidence and opportunities to interrupt transmission, Thailand’s Malaria CSO Focal Point and a team from Raks Thai Foundation conducted an investigation in collaboration with community representatives at three subdistricts. During the visits, both government malaria posts and CSO community workers highlighted their efforts to coordinate with each other and expressed their appreciation for the mutual support within their respective community settings. The initial results show that the increased cases were likely due to two 3 main reasons (i) inaccessibility of health services and (ii) risky behavior. The challenges of accessing health services were more prominent in non-Thai populations due to the financial burden for travel. The risky behavior is associated with recent lifestyle changes among the villagers, who are increasing nighttime activities such as social gatherings, playing mobile games, and watching TV due to stable internet connection and electricity in 2020. The team also found out that there was limited availability of alternative and practical vector control methods, including topical repellents.

VietMCI - a national civil society consortium, Vietnam
Capacity building training to Community Malaria Action Team (CMAT)

Continued education and refreshing knowledge and skills of community volunteers are vital for a sustainable approach. During September, VietMCI has conducted the training course, including malaria knowledge, communication capacity, data monitoring reporting issues, and financial, judicial procedures to 40 new and old CMAT members, community volunteers. The CMATs under VietMCI have been working in 149 communes in four provinces, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, and Binh Phuoc where high malaria cases are concentrated and they vowed to support the community to end malaria by 2030. The refresher training course provided an opportunity for the CMATs to be acquainted with the role and responsibility, improve the knowledge and skills needed for delivering malaria services to the community.

Catholic Relief Services, Cambodia
Highlighting the role of Mobile Malaria Workers in malaria elimination

Village volunteers or MMWs, are the front-line malaria service providers across Catholic Relief Services’ three provinces. The fundamental contributions of MMWs in malaria mortality and morbidity reduction have been recognized nationally, and CRS could not work towards the national elimination of malaria without their commitment and dedication at the community level. A short video was produced to highlight the roles of MMWs to provide malaria services to hard-to-reach population in remote areas with support from CRS in collaboration with Cambodia Malaria Control Program
Cambodia version: Link
English version: Link
Responsive community health delivery systems during COVID-19 pandemic: Experiences of Medical Action Myanmar

The recent survey results of Global Fund-supported programs across 106 countries show widespread disruption of malaria service delivery due to COVID-19. Not surprisingly, malaria programs in Myanmar faced disruptions in routine malaria activities, which are mostly carried out in campaign settings – such as supervision visits to volunteers, community activities (LLIN distribution, health education, and training) due to restrictions for travel and a mass gathering of people. Nonetheless, many CSOs, including Medical Action Myanmar, continue providing essential malaria services. Based on the MAM best practices and lessons learned, key drivers and adjusted interventions emerged to maintain the most critical prevention of malaria services to reduce the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the full case study report.

Governance of CSO Platform for RAI3E

The governance of the CSO platform includes two RAI RSC CSO Representatives, two alternate RAI RSC CSO Representatives, and three steering committee members from each RAI implementing countries. The CSO Platform has completed the election process of new steering committee members of each GMS country. Besides, the election process of the RAI RSC CSO representatives who will represent the interests of malaria vulnerable communities of five GMS countries is underway. The names of new RAI RSC CSO Representatives and new steering committee members will be announced in early January 2021.
To learn current RAI2E CSO platform governance - Link
Recent interesting malaria articles
  1. Vector control – 10 challenges and 10 solutions
  2. An ingredients-based approach to costing integrated malaria elimination strategies: an example from Myanmar
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Regional Malaria CSO Platform, GMS
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