PNGIMR’s Senior Scientific Officer Serah Kurumop has been presenting virtually at a training on the Continuous Quality Improvement of the Malaria Program. She has been telling development partners and malaria staff from the provincial and national malaria programs about the sixth national health facility survey for malaria PNGIMR’s malaria control team (known as MalCon) in Goroka is conducting.The last survey was done in 2016. The results from that survey found a disturbing decline in the availability of malaria diagnostic equipment and antimalarials in health facilities across PNG. The current survey will show if that trend has continued or if the availability of supplies has improved.
MalCon teams will implement the survey in all 22 provinces; they have already completed four provinces.In every province,a team spends a week in each of two randomly selected health centres (Level 2,3 or 4) and two Level 1 aid posts in each health centre’s catchment area. In some provinces, teams will also go to a hospital. At every facility, field workers record the availability of malaria medications, malaria diagnostics such as rapid diagnostic tests and other supplies. They also interview health workers on their malaria knowledge, attitude and practice, observe the health workers’ management of fever or suspected malaria patients and interview patients.
MalCon works closely with the National Department of Health’s malaria control program, which will use the health facilities survey to inform their activities.
Doing the survey during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a big challenge. Ms Kurumop says, ‘The safety of our staff and the staff and patients at the facilities is our priority. All of our field workers and drivers are fully vaccinated. They have PPE and cleaning supplies and are regularly encouraged to follow the correct protocols. Since the current surge, everyone returning from data collection istested and quarantined.’ She added, ‘many clinics are scaling down their non-COVID services and that affects how patients with malaria and other illnesses are managed.’
The health facility survey is part of the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria program in Papua New Guineamanaged by the Rotarians Against Malaria.