Stomping Out Malaria in Africa was built on the vision that through strategic partnerships, targeted training and mobilization of Volunteers, intelligent use ofinformation technology, and radically efficient use of seed funding, Peace Corps will focus the efforts of over 3,000 Volunteers in sub-Saharan Africa to make an immediate and measurable impact in the fight against malaria.
Malaria, an infection caused by the plasmodium parasite, has been a critical public health challenge for thousands of years. From the first recorded sighting in China in 2,700 BC, its signature high cyclical fever and anemia have gone on to kill hundreds of millions of people and the total number of infections is in the billions. In the year 2005 alone, World Health Organization estimates indicated that malaria infected between 350 and 500 million people and killed over 1 million, 90% of whom lived in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of those were children.
Since 2005, a massive international malaria control effort has begun to make significant progress. In 2010, WHO estimated that the number of malaria deaths annually had dropped to 655,000, with the majority of the decrease attributable to increased availability and usage of long lasting insecticide-treaded nets (LLINs). With the LLIN coverage across the continent reaching high levels, however, the potential for additional gains through net distributions diminishes. The international malaria prevention community, while maintaining high levels of net coverage, has increasingly turned its focus to training community health workers to diagnose and treat malaria in the home. As an organization supporting grassroots development, Peace Corps Volunteers work closely with CHWs across Africa.
The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then-Sen. John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew a federal government agency devoted to world peace and friendship.
Throughout its history, the Peace Corps has adapted and responded to the issues of the times. In an ever-changing world, Peace Corps Volunteers have met new challenges with innovation, creativity, determination, and compassion. Malaria has been part of the Peace Corps experience from the beginning. In a 1961 memo to President Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, who spearheaded the creation of the Peace Corps and became its first director, outlined the three programmatic areas Peace Corps would address: education, food security, and malaria.
Since Sargent Shriver’s first malaria-focused Volunteers began their services in 1961, 200,000+ Americans have served in the Peace Corps, working in 139 countries in diverse sectors including agriculture, health education, small enterprise development, and conservation.
On May 5th, 2009, President Barack Obama announce the creation of the Global Health Initiative (GHI), an effort to coordinate the activities of all US governmental organizations engaged in health related foreign assistance. Since that time, Peace Corps has been working to deepen its integration with partners at the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and its constituent agencies: the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Stomping Out Malaria in Africa
On April 25, 2011 Peace Corps launched its Stomping Out Malaria in Africa initiative at a World Malaria Day event at Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington DC. Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams along with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and PMI Coordinator Admiral Timothy Ziemer advanced a grand vision for a unique collaboration between Peace Corps Volunteers in the field, US Government malaria prevention professionals at partner agencies, partner NGOs and host country institutions across Africa.
Peace Corps would train a cadre of highly specialized malaria prevention Volunteers – the Malaria Team – and embed those Volunteers in every malaria-focused organization in Africa with an urgent need for human resources. PMI would provide expert trainers, professional and technical mentoring of Malaria Team members and support in liaising with host country institutions and NGOs. Malaria Team Volunteers would make the organizations they worked in more effective and coordinate between those organizations and the field network of over 3,000 Volunteers in sub-Saharan Africa to bring the full focused effort of the Peace Corps Volunteer network to bear on the issue of malaria prevention.
Embedding Volunteers in partner organizations would create a significant increase in inter-organizational communication bandwidth. This increase in communicationwould lead to increased synergies among USG agencies and organizations funded by USG funds in line with the vision of the GHI.
Fighting Malaria in Our Communities
Peace Corps will work to ensure every malaria-impacted Peace Corps Volunteer community (village or urban neighborhood) has universal bed net coverage and comprehensive malaria prevention and treatment education programs.
Partnering to Defeat Malaria in Target Countries
Peace Corps will work with partners in all malaria-impacted countries to achieve the internationally agreed upon of milestone or near zero deaths caused by malaria by 2015.
Building an International Malaria Prevention Community
Peace Corps will work with partners to catalyze a community of practice for frontline malaria prevention professionals, using the internet to facilitate documentation and sharing of malaria prevention best practices internationally.
National Malaria Control Programs
The prime partners for all malaria work, including that of Stomping Out Malaria in Africa, are the National Malaria Control Programs in the countries where we work. Over the course of the last year, Peace Corps programs in all Stomp countries have strengthened or begun relationships with their NMCPs. In The Gambia, this has resulted in a Volunteer being seconded directly to the NMCP to support their IT and program management needs. In Kenya, Volunteers have been assigned as counterparts to the NMCP’s District Malaria Control Officers in key high prevalence
The President’s Malaria Initiative is the largest institutional partner of Stomp, with 14 Stomp countries hosting PMI programming. Since the inception of Stomp, PMI has supported the program by offering their expert staff to Boot Camp trainings that have trained over 50 PCVs and 12 Peace Corps staff members. Those trainees in turn have trained hundreds of Volunteers throughout Africa.
Instead of ‘partnerships by occasional meeting,’ Stomp assigns volunteers to key partners, exponentially increasing the quantity and quality of institutional partnerships.
Building institutional relationships with partners is key to the success of Stomping Out Malaria in Africa. Many organizations want to be better partners with their peers but struggle with the logistics of opening and maintaining clear lines of communication and processes of coordination. Based on an internal review of the efficacy of various Peace Corps partnerships, Stomp identified that those partnerships which involved the embedding or seconding of a Volunteer directly to a partner organization experienced an exceptional success rate. Embedded Volunteers dramatically increased the bandwidth between the organizations and simplified the process of coordination and joint strategic planning.Based on this insight, Stomp has followed an innovative strategy of identifying key malaria prevention organizations at all posts and assigning Volunteers to those organizations with a dual mandate. Assigned Volunteers support the work of the organization directly and are also tasked with ensuring that all of the Volunteers in country are aware of the organization’s activities and synergize their malaria prevention activities with those of the partner. Over the past year, 30 malaria prevention organizations across Africa have benefited from the direct support of a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Malaria No More is an organization dedicated to eliminating malaria in Africa by 2015. Their projects include the innovative Net Guarantee program for LLIN procurement, Nightwatch, a public awareness radio and television campaign, and Speak Up Africa, a project aimed at highlighting local African malaria prevention champions. Malaria No More staff have provided expert trainers for all Malaria Boot Camp trainings and Volunteers in Senegal and Cameroon are assigned directly to MNM. Additionally, curriculum for primary school malaria education developed by MNM is being rolled out for use by Volunteers across the continent.
JHUCCP’s NetWorks program in Senegal was one of the earliest institutional partners of Stomp. Volunteers in Senegal have worked with NetWorks on nationwide universal coverage campaigns and routine distribution logistics. Networks staff have been instrumental in training Volunteers at the Boot Camps.
Well-trained Volunteers are the key to Stomp,
knowledgeable trainers are the prerequisite for great trainings, and having the best and brightest attend trainings together enhances learning. So Stomp created the Malaria Boot Camp program, a 10 day intensive training held in Thies, Senegal with over 30 expert trainers from partner organizations. Over the course of 3 Boot Camp trainings, Stomp has trained 51 Volunteers, 12 staff members and 1 member of the National Malaria Control Program staff member. Together they represent a Peace Corps Malaria Team currently covering 18 countries.
Well-trained Volunteers are the key to Stomp, knowledgeable trainers are the prerequisite for great trainings, and having the best and brightest attend trainings together enhances learning. So Stomp created the Malaria Boot Camp program, a 10 day intensive training held in Thies, Senegal with over 30 expert trainers from partner organizations. Over the course of 3 Boot Camp trainings, Stomp has trained 51 Volunteers, 12 staff members and 1 member of the National Malaria Control Program staff member. Together they represent a Peace Corps Malaria Team currently covering 18 countries.
Learning doesn’t end when you walk out the schoolroom door and it doesn’t end when Malaria Team Volunteers return to their countries. Ongoing knowledge sharing ensures that Malaria Team members have the most up to date information about key issues and knits these Volunteers into one team, with a shared purpose and vision. Innovative ideas no longer need to spend the months or years that they used to take traveling from the field to HQ and out to other Volunteers in the field. Volunteers want to share their operational knowledge with their peers.
Almost 100% of Volunteers and a growing number of staff already use Facebook. These two insights led Stomp to leverage Facebook Groups as a tool for communication and best practice sharing, both within the Malaria Team and with key partners. Volunteers, staff, and key partners have access to the Malaria Team Facebook Group, a bulletin board for asking questions, sharing the latest events, and receiving encouragement and insight from their peers.
While Facebook is a fantastic platform for instant feedback from a large peer group, many resources are too large to fit in an FB post, and finding information and documents can be difficult. However, 95% of all Volunteers use Google’s Gmail as their email provider and thus have access to Google Docs, an online file repository. Stomp has developed an online resource library in Google Docs available to all Malaria Team Volunteers. There, Volunteers can access lesson plans, case studies, and other media resources for malaria prevention. It is entirely searchable using standard Google Search and Malaria Team Volunteers can access it through their existing Gmail logins. Country-specific portions of the Google Docs library are made available to all Volunteers from that country.
Wordpress Content Management System
Stomp maintains a public facing website at www.stompoutmalaria.org that highlights Volunteers, their counterparts, and their unique malaria interventions. Built on a Free Open Source Software (FOSS) content management system, the site offers Volunteers with virtually no experience in website building simple tools to create, edit, and publish their projects in real time.
Volunteers without regular Internet access publish updates from their cell phones in a system that integrates live Twitter feeds on to each country profile page.