Improving Malaria Treatment Availability to Save Lives in Malawi

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Date
February 10, 2022
Lead Paragraph/Summary

Fanny Mdeba, 24, of Blantyre, had previously failed to receive treatment after being diagnosed with malaria at Zingwangwa Health Centre, but this year, she could get treated. “ I felt feverish earlier this year,” she said. “I went to the health center and was relieved to receive medication, upon testing positive for malaria.” More than 650 public health facilities and service delivery points countrywide in Malawi, including Zingwangwa Health Centre, now consistently receive malaria long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs)—and medication from 2017 through 2021, among health commodities being procured and delivered by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), through U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project.

More than USD$12,000,000 worth of LLINs have been delivered to Malawi from 2017 through 2021. Since 2017, GHSC-PSM has supported the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) under the Malawi Ministry of Health (MOH) through managing a parallel supply chain (PSC) system for warehousing and distribution of PMI-donated commodities using a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, Cargo Management Logistics Limited, to boost in-country commodity security. It has proven to be reliable, efficient, and effective. Clients like Fanny and hundreds more countrywide are clearly benefiting from the readily available malaria commodities.

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“Unlike previous years, we no longer worry about availability of malaria medication at the health center,” Fanny said. ”We hope this consistency continues, as it also eases our burden of travelling longer distances to other facilities just to access treatment, especially during the malaria season.” Vuso Tembo, a pharmacy technician at Blantyre District Hospital, spoke about the significant impact the PSC model has had on patients like Fanny. He stated that PSC has made a key difference by improving the availability of essential medical commodities by eliminating stock-outs, reducing service interruption, and improving distribution planning. Previously, the facilities could go three or four months without receiving supplies, thereby affecting service delivery, as there was no consistent time between receiving one shipment and the next. “We can now plan around the stock we have because we know, for example, that we receive malaria products on a regular interval,” he said.

The GHSC-PSM project, in collaboration with other partners, continues to provide technical assistance to Malawi’s MOH in coordinating the many existing parallel health supply chains through central-level interventions, including forecasting, supply planning, developing the workforce, and augmenting the government’s in-country logistics efforts. The GHSC-PSM parallel supply chain system complements the government-led major supply chain that is run by the central medical stores in Malawi; the scope of the PSC includes procurement, warehousing, and distribution of U.S. Government–donated commodities. In-country logistics are supported by a 3PL provider to improve commodity security.

“These are essential commodities that must be available at health facilities. A day cannot pass without encountering a malaria patient, so PSC has really helped in saving lives.” - Vuso Tembo, Pharmacy Technician, Blantyre District Hospital