Malaria Consortium, in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, is developing the capacity of 33,000 frontline healthcare workers across 40 districts in Uganda to identify and safely treat cases of COVID-19, while continuing to deliver integrated community case management (iCCM), a strategy to tackle malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and acute malnutrition - the main killers of children under five.
The pandemic has thrown into stark relief the fragility of health systems around the world and the overwhelming need to support healthcare workers. Research from the UK and the US has found that the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 is 12 times higher among healthcare workers than it is for individuals in the general community. This risk increases when healthcare workers lack access to essential personal protective equipment (PPE). Without the right tools and support, the safe and accurate delivery of essential treatments and other services cannot be achieved.
Through the Foundation's COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, Malaria Consortium has been supporting healthcare workers with the skills and resources necessary to tackle the outbreak alongside other endemic diseases. Frontline healthcare workers are being provided with PPE and water, sanitation and hygiene kits across the 40 districts, in addition to receiving training in infection prevention control and the identification of risk factors for COVID-19 transmission. But beyond the immediate infection risks of COVID-19, there is also concern that the pandemic is diverting resources - human and financial - away from the delivery of essential health services, including malaria.
Interventions like iCCM help to extend the reach of public health services to populations with limited access to healthcare. With resources currently being used to prevent the spread of COVID-19, responding to malaria and other endemic diseases becomes more challenging. This could have severe repercussions for progress made in Uganda toward malaria prevention and control, and the goal of universal health coverage (UHC). In response, Malaria Consortium continues to strengthen health workers' capacity to provide iCCM services safely, accurately and with the right tools.
Designing and implementing sustainable programmes suited to local contexts is a primary goal for Malaria Consortium. This partnership with Mastercard Foundation builds on existing work to strengthen the resilience of primary health care in Uganda, including ongoing support to the Ministry of Health to strengthen outbreak response measures. The project will further strengthen these measures in Uganda now and in the future and is an important step towards achieving more responsive and resilient health systems overall.
Find out more about the project in our project brief.