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April 19, 2018

From Equatorial Guinea to Benin: Collaborating to Combat Malaria



The ARM3 Team and the cohort from Equatorial Guinea at the ARM3 project offices.

At MCDI, partnership is key to achieving the desired outcomes of our projects around the world. Partnerships can be within projects, for example when MCDI works closely with other development organizations, health systems, or governments. Partnerships can even be across MCDI's project portfolio. This past March, MCDI took this collaborative approach by facilitating an exchange meeting of the National Malaria Control Programs (NMCPs) of Equatorial Guinea and Benin organized by MCDI's Bioko Island Malaria Control Program (BIMCP) and Accelerating the Reduction of Malaria Morbidity and Mortality (ARM3) Project.

The National Director of the Equatoguinean NMCP, Matilde Riloha Rivas, NMCP Laboratory Technologist Consuelo Oki Eburi, MCDI Deputy Country Director Wonder Philip Phiri and MCDI Case Management Officer Gninoussa Akadiri visited Benin from March 17 through 22. During the meeting, the Equatoguinean representatives met with the NMCP of Benin, the ARM3 team, as well as CEBAC-STP, a coalition of private companies that are united in fighting HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The goal of these meetings was to inform Equatorial Guinea's possible integration of the private sector into the fight against malaria, which has been a focus area for the ARM3 project. The Equatoguinean NMCP learned about the structure of Benin's health system, in which over 60% of patients visit private health providers. The Benin Ministry of Health, with the assistance of ARM3, has set up a public-private partnership agreement in which private facilities are granted access to subsidized malaria medicines if they meet quality standards.

In order to further understand the role of the private sector in these programs, the team visited with a district health team at a private health facility, followed by a visit to the Abomey-Calavi Health District and Missionary Health Center. This health center is one of four pilot areas where the process of introducing subsidized malaria commodities to the private sector has been introduced. These visits demonstrated the importance of establishing policies, procedures, and trainings in order to allow for smooth collaboration between the public and private sector facilities.

In order to understand the full potential for public-private partnerships, the Equatoguinean team met with CEBAC-STP to see how private enterprises could work towards fighting malaria. The coalition of private companies have a vested interest in the health of their employees and the community. ARM3 worked with the Benin NMCP in order to work with CEBAC-STP to sell 100,000 bed nets to employees of CEBAC-STP organizations at a subsidized price. This initiative worked with private sector companies to train more than 80 organization managers on the importance of bed nets in preventing malaria in order for them to promote the purchase of these nets by their employees. Approximately 160,000 people benefitted from this distribution campaign.

At a meeting with the Director of the National Reference Laboratory of Quality Control, there was a discussion between the Director and the Equatoguinean team to set up potential future collaboration and training opportunities. The director of the laboratory agreed to support the training of Equatoguinean counterparts on the use of a MiniLab (a laboratory that can stored within a suitcase) to test for quality control of medicines in the field. These efforts will allow for the health system of Equatorial Guinea to be able to ensure the quality of medicines delivered in health centers throughout the country.

Though the socioeconomic, political and environmental situations of Equatorial Guinea and Benin are different, there are still lessons to be taken away for both countries thanks to these exchanges. Cross-project collaborations such as these are at the center of how MCDI's innovative and effective strategies can achieve their maximum impact. By working together, Benin and Equatorial Guinea can further our progress towards a malaria-free world.



The Equatoguinean team meeting with the DPP.


The Equatoguinean team and members of CEBAC-STP.




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