MCDI Launches Integrated HIV/AIDS, Malaria Project in Gabon
Medical Care Development International (MCDI) has launched a project for Improved Integrated Maternal and Neonatal Survival through Malaria and HIV/AIDS Prevention in Gabon. The two-year project funded by Noble Energy focuses on improving prevention, testing and treatment of malaria at primary health facilities, as well as testing, counseling and tracking of HIV-positive pregnant women and their newborns.
Much like other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, malaria is the primary cause of illness across age groups in Gabon, and is the top cause of mortality amongst children under five. Severe malaria can lead to maternal and fetal deaths when occurring during pregnancy. In addition, Gabonese women ages 15-49 are infected with HIV/AIDS at a higher rate than that of men in the same age group. Therefore, MCDI aims to combat the high burden of both diseases with proven lifesaving interventions such as the administration of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) and triple antiretrovirals (ARVs) at antenatal care clinics.
The project will focus its activities in Nyanga Province, a rural region of Gabon with more limited access to primary health care in comparison with the rest of the country. Heavily forested and sparsely populated, Nyanga Province was estimated to have over 20% malaria prevalence in 2015, and currently lacks sufficient coverage with insecticide-impregnated mosquito bed nets. HIV prevalence is estimated at 6%.
The Noble Energy-funded project has three main goals: to refurbish local health facilities, to improve malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, and to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. MCDI will work with public health facilities to improve their malaria diagnostic capacity and adherence to treatment guidelines, ensure the availability of intermittent preventative treatment (IPT) of malaria and ARVs for women during pregnancy, use communication to increase attendance at antenatal care clinics, ensure the availability of bed nets at health centers, and track their distribution.
For the HIV/AIDS component of the project, MCDI will conduct trainings on HIV diagnosis using rapid tests, prepare health professionals to counsel HIV positive individuals identified during antenatal care visits, as well as provide training on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission. MCDI will also work to secure a continuous supply of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and essential medicines at health centers.
In the implementation of this project, MCDI is collaborating with the Ministry of Health of Gabon, the national HIV prevention and malaria control programs, the Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville (CIRMF), and the Centre de Recherches Médicales de Lambaréné (CERMEL), as well as the Nyanga Regional Health Directorate (DRS) and local health facilities.