EGPAF Embarks on Project Malamu in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Initiative Focuses on Increasing Quality and Coverage of HIV and SGBV Services, Local Ownership, and Sustainable Approaches
In late 2011, EGPAF staff members in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) began the groundbreaking Project Malamu
initiative. A five-year project made possible by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Project Malamu will address one key project area at a time to build on its successes and improve HIV and AIDS service offerings in Kinshasa and Katanga Provinces.
Project Malamu will increase the quality and coverage of services in facility and community settings, while focusing on local ownership and sustainable approaches. Currently, Project Malamu is focused on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. The project offers comprehensive PMTCT services which includes syphilis testing and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) screening, treatment, and referrals.
In the near future, the scope will expand to include pediatric care and treatment, health systems strengthening, tuberculosis treatment and prevention, and the care and treatment of adults living with HIV and AIDS. The goal for the first 12 months of implementation is ambitious yet achievable: to have 30,000 pregnant women in the DRC tested for HIV – and to offer PMTCT services and partner testing to those testing positive.
“DRC is one of the countries with the lowest PMTCT coverage in the world,” said EGPAF’s Country Director for DRC John Ditekemena. “Only 5% of pregnant women have access to PMTCT services here, and at the same time, DRC is among the most populated countries on the planet. We need to reach the elimination of pediatric AIDS here. From our standpoint, elimination comes down to coverage multiplied by quality. Through Project Malamu, we are supporting both health facilities and health zones (government health management structures). Slowly, we are going to be increasing the quality of services at the sites and the quality of management at the health zones, and expanding coverage using the strategy of 'peer to peer' sites. Our goal is to start making quality services available for all pregnant women in EGPAF-supported health zones, and then we will go beyond that to incorporate other services and provide entire families with comprehensive HIV services. In this way, EGPAF will be making a significant contribution to reaching the elimination of pediatric AIDS in DRC.”
Borrowed from a Lingala expression, “Malamu” is a common response to the greeting “How are you?” The word signifies that the person and his or her family are doing well and in good health. Malamu was a natural choice for the name of the project, as the initiative will equip local medical professionals and district health zones with the skills necessary to provide quality services – and ensure that entire communities remain vibrant and healthy.