This June, I had the pleasure of traveling to Uganda for the first time with the winners of last year’s Pilgrim Africa trip at our annual Jasiri auction. On one of our packed days, we toured the Katakwi Rotary Malaria Project, an innovative project Pilgrim Africa is doing in partnership with Rotary International and the President’s Malaria Initiative, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Located a bumpy, 45-minute drive past Pilgrim Africa’s high school in Soroti township is Toroma subcounty in Katakwi District, home to Pilgrim Africa’s field office for the Katakwi Rotary Malaria Project (KRMP). On the drive, we pass cattle calmly grazing in the floodplains and the occasional grouping of hut houses. We are gently jostled, receiving what’s fondly referred to as an “African massage”, while the tires kick up Uganda’s iconic red clay. 

As we walked into the office, the KRMP team was focused on the beginning of our Phase II KRMP project, a comparative effectiveness trial of two different kinds of community case management. The day we visited, the team was analyzing results from the baseline survey for Phase II. This survey also acts as the final survey for Phase I.

Meet Sally and Ema, our microscopy specialists

Sally and Ema examine thin bloodsmears collected from people living in randomly selected households in the project area to determine how many people have the malaria parasite in their blood. Their work is critical to analyzing how well interventions of Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), mass drug administration (MDA), and long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) have worked over the last two and a half years to reduce malaria prevalence in Katakwi. The baseline for Phase II allows measurement of future community case management effectiveness in keeping those malaria transmission rates low. Survey results will be ready soon.

VHT training for community case management

Currently the KRMP team is busy preparing the last week of a 5-week training process for the Village Health Teams (VHTs) who will conduct integrated community case management for malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia throughout the project area over the next two years. All 210 VHTs have been trained to conduct testing and treating for these common household killers, to counsel and educate caregivers on net use, nutrition, and postnatal infant care, but also to enter data on mobile phones. We can’t wait to see them graduate and begin their important work in the community!