The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Kenya-based INFORM team have been awarded a grant of £4.2 million from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to strengthen the use of data in malaria policy-making.
Over four years, the “Malaria Data for Decision Making” programme will work with malaria control programmes and stakeholders in endemic countries to develop epidemiological profiles of malaria in 14 African countries with a high burden of the disease.
This work builds on a pilot project, funded by DFID in 2013-2014 and led by Dr Abdisalan Noor and Professor Bob Snow of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust’s INFORM team. They created malaria profiles for eight countries: Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.
The newly awarded programme is led by David Schellenberg, Professor of Malaria & International Health at the School and Director of the ACT Consortium. He said: “Ministries of health need to target their resources where they are most needed, especially in times of financial difficulties. To maximise value for money, global recommendations need to be adopted and adapted to the local epidemiology and health system”.
At a launch meeting in London, the project team agreed the next steps, including the initial engagement with National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCP) and other local and global stakeholders in the target countries. Ten countries in the new programme will be selected from the following list in discussion with WHO AFRO and NMCPs: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Niger, Republic of Sudan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Zambia. In addition, the programme will engage with the eight countries included in the pilot phase, updating the epidemiological profiles in four of them.
The programme will identify, gather and analyse data on where the disease is, details of the local mosquito vectors and which interventions are in place or needed. This information will be presented in the context of other relevant information, including the country’s malaria control history and its health systems structure and function.
“A lot of data are available but not being used as effectively as they could be,” Professor Schellenberg explained. “We will bring data together, present it in a way that helps to inform malaria control and work with in-country stakeholders to disseminate the knowledge. We aim to increase the use of data to guide policy and operational decisions to improve malaria control.”