AFRICA University has been hailed for its steadfast dedication to the fight against malaria in the country through its implementation of the Zimbabwe Entomological (ZENTO) Support Programme.
The initiative, which is funded by USAID and supported by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, has since 2021been making significant progress in the fight against malaria in Mutasa, Mutare and Nyanga Districts in Manicaland, as well as four other districts in Mashonaland East Province.
During a site visit of the ZENTO initiative’s laboratory and insectary at Africa University on Tuesday, USAID Mission Director for Zimbabwe, Ms Jenean Davis expressed satisfaction on the university’s firmness in the fight against the disease.
Ms Davis said USAID will continue working towards the elimination of malaria through partnerships with Government as the disease impacts the development of the nation.
“One of the burdensome things we have recognised about malaria is its links to broader development. Across all areas of health, you recognise the impact of the disease burden on people’s out of pocket expenses, on their ability to go to work, on children’s ability to attend school and the impact of malaria across the continent. So anything that we can do to ease the malaria burden should be applauded,” she said.
Ms Davis also applauded AU for becoming the first private institution in the country to upload data on the District Health Information System (DHIS 2).
Through the system, the types of mosquitoes that carry malaria in an area can be identified, their feeding preferences and the most effective insecticides to use.
This helps to prevent more infections and deaths by using indoor residual spraying (IRS) or insecticide treated nets (ITNs).
“We are very proud with what has been achieved here. Our emphasis is on supporting local partners to help countries and local organisations to solve their own problems,” said Ms Davis.
USAID funded the initiative with a three-year grant of US$1.6 million.
“The grant has been used to, among other things, build the insectary, provide the laboratory equipment and a constant effort on staff capacity building,” she said.
Ms Davis also said as USAID, they are always looking for partnership opportunities to expand their work in Zimbabwe.
Africa University Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Mageto said the ZENTO initiative is a successful and ongoing effort to combat malaria in Zimbabwe.
He said the project which began in Manicaland has expanded to other districts in Mashonaland East due to its positive outcomes.
“The ZENTO initiative is a testament to the fruitful partnership between AU and USAID, and the impact it has on the health and well-being of the people of Zimbabwe. This is not just a story of Manicaland, but the whole country,” he said.
The malaria programme in Zimbabwe continues to adopt the World Health Organisation’s malaria guidelines for case management, surveillance, vector control, and prevention of the re-establishment of malaria in areas where it was eliminated.