Ethiopia’s MalTra Week Experience Inspires ITI Team Members
ITI’s Supply Chain Manager Noah Kafumbe and Senior Program Associate Chantal Veira traveled to Ethiopia in early November to experience for the first time, the innovative intervention strategy called “MalTra Week.” They both returned to Atlanta re-energized to do all they can in the quest to eliminate blinding trachoma by 2020.
MalTra Week is an ambitious public health campaign that uses an integrated approach to combat malaria and trachoma, combining treatment for malaria and trachoma (MalTra) and prevention education for these two diseases. Implemented by the Amhara Regional Health Bureau, and supported by the Lions Clubs of Ethiopia, and The Carter Center, MalTra Week occurs twice a year in Ethiopia, in November and April. From November 5-11, 20,000 health workers and volunteers traveled through western Amhara region, treating approximately 10 million people for blinding trachoma and malaria. ITI supports MalTra Week through its management of the Pfizer donation of Zithromax®.
“Seeing the work in the field is so inspiring,” said Kafumbe, whose job is to make sure the Pfizer-donated Zithromax® gets to the right place at the right time to the right people in order to treat and prevent blinding trachoma. “Going out in the field and seeing the Zithromax® being distributed was really eye-opening.”
Witnessing MalTra Week was “very intense,” said Veira, who provides program support to French speaking countries implementing the SAFE strategy and technical assistance for the scale up of the Zithromax® donation in new countries. “When you see the burden of the disease, there is a lot of sadness. But I also witnessed a lot of hope.”
Veira was inspired as she watched the way health extension workers effectively organized the medicine, documents and supplies they needed to conduct the mass drug administration. Others would mobilize people from the community to gather under a tree, for example, and receive the free medicine. “I was impressed with the commitment of all the people involved,” she said. “That’s what gave me hope.”
Kafumbe said he was humbled by the work done in the field.
”I would like thank all the implementing partners in Ethiopia who have sown the seeds in the fight against blinding trachoma at the grass root level. Talking with and engaging the children in the community convinced me that the majority of them know what causes trachoma and how it can be avoided. Many of them emphasized face washing. These children are a formidable force in the push for the 2020 elimination target.”
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