ANTANANARIVO –To help Madagascar improve its ability to diagnose and treat malaria in regional health centers, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) this week supported training and certification of laboratory technicians to international standards across the country.
In partnership with the Ministry of Public Health’s Programme National de Lutte contre le Paludisme (PNLP), USAID is helping Madagascar develop a nascent cadre of internationally accredited experts in microscopic diagnosis of malaria, capable of sharing their new skills with others to improve management of diagnosis and treatment nationally.
At a ceremony hosted by the PNLP today, a total of twelve technicians received their certification of training to World Health Organization (WHO) standards following a week of examinations as the last step of the three-level course.
“This program will provide the Ministry of Public Health with more laboratory technicians accredited according to World Health Organization standards,” Dr. Haja Razafindrafito, acting deputy director of USAID’s Office of Health, Population, and Nutrition, said at the ceremony. “We all know that effective treatment requires quality diagnosis.”
The partnership between USAID through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the PNLP renews the mutual commitment strengthening the health system and supporting the fight against malaria, which remains a major public health problem as a leading cause of infant mortality.
“There are four different malaria parasites in Madagascar,” now certified technician Patrick Raharinandrasana said before the ceremony. “It is critical for a physician to know which one is causing the disease to prescribe the correct treatment.”
Raharinandrasana, who works at the regional Public Health Directorate in the DIANA region, added that the training “took me to a whole new level of expertise” that he can share with other technicians “all over the country and beyond.”
The United States through PMI is the largest principal donor in the fight against malaria in Madagascar, having provided $357 million since 2008 for purchase and distribution of mosquito nets, testing, treatment, and prophylaxis for pregnant women in partnership with PNLP.