Building a Cure for Malaria

By Kaleigh Rogers, Reporter, VICE.

In May, VICE reporter Kaleigh Rogers visited Tanzania to report on malaria, and stopped by the Ithna Asheri clinic in Arusha, where a PSI intervention helped train clinicians and lab techs in using malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests (mRDTs) to properly diagnosis and treat fever cases. Below is an excerpt from her article on Motherboard, an online magazine launched by VICE.

Mgambo, Tanzania

Kombo Juma gave me a feeble smile as he propped himself up on the hospital bed, his forehead slightly damp with sweat, and told me he’s “feeling fresh now.” The 23-year-old serviceman in the Tanzania People’s Defence Force had been in the medical ward at the army training center in Mgambo for the last two days, sick with malaria. It’s the first time he’s ever had the illness.

“It’s because he’s from Zanzibar,” explained the army officer giving me a tour. The officer then spun on his heels and called to another slim boy, resting in a bed across the room, and asked where he was from.

“Zanzibar,” the soldier croaked. Same as the young man at the other end of the room, and the serviceman beside him.

In Tanzania, training in the National Service is compulsory upon graduation from high school, so young men and women from all over the country are often shipped to rural Mgambo—a moderately malaria-endemic part of the country. If they’re from Zanzibar, they usually get sick, because unlike the rest of Tanzania, Zanzibar has virtually eliminated malaria. This was achieved through education efforts, distributing insecticide-treated mosquito nets, rapid diagnosis and treatment, and indoor insecticide spraying. These techniques have also been used across mainland Tanzania, and have contributed to cutting the malaria prevalence, but they achieved particular success in Zanzibar due to the realities of being an island—small, manageable, and easily quarantined from the rest of East Africa.

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Chang’ombe, a rural village in the Tanga region of Tanzania, where malaria is still prevalent. Image: Kaleigh Rogers/Motherboard

Read the rest of Kaleigh’s story on VICE.