‘Malaria fight needs behavioural change’
By Wezzie Gausi:
The Malaria Social and Behaviour Change Research and Learning Agenda for the 2023-2030 has revealed that malaria interventions depend on human behaviour to be successful.
The agenda shows that progress on the reduction of the country’s malaria burden may be partly attributed to creating demand for malaria related products and services such as care seeking for fever.
Speaking in Lilongwe yesterday during the official launch of the Malawi National Malaria Communication Strategy 2022-2030, Ministry of Health, Deputy Director for Malaria Lumbani Munthali said effective social and behaviour change (SBC) approaches can positively contribute to several malaria outcomes.
Munthali said there is a need to strengthen capacity in implementing scientific research for malaria SBC in Malawi.
“These documents are important for the Ministry of Health and Malawi at large. These are our guide in how the nation should go in the fight against malaria in our communities,” Munthali said.
Breakthrough Action Chief of Party Catherine Chime Mukwakwa said SBC is critical to designing and implementing interventions that are suitable and acceptable to the target audience for maximum effect.
She said exploring best practices for interventions as it pertains to the Malawi context can improve all malaria interventions.
“SBC is not solely in the domain but there are other practitioners in Malawi with a wealth of experience and data that could prove beneficial to advancing the overall goal of malaria elimination,” Mukwakwa said.
In 2021, an estimated 247 million new malaria cases and 619,000 deaths were reported globally.
Ninety-five percent of these occurred in the World Health Organisation Africa Region (234 million and 593,000 deaths), where 75 percent of the population remains at risk of the disease.
According to Ministry of Health, malaria tops the list as a leading cause of deaths in Malawi claiming about five lives every day mostly under-five children, due to late presentation for care.