Federal Way Rotary hosts Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia

A meeting of the Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia was held at a Federal Way Rotary Club meeting on June 9 at the Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club with four visiting Zambian Rotarians in attendance.

Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia (PMFZ) is a multimillion-dollar effort of the Federal Way Rotary in collaboration with Rotary Club International, World Vision, PATH MACEPA (Malaria Control and Elimination Partnership Africa), and the Gates Foundation.

The goal of the program is “to train and equip 2,500 community health workers in rural Zambia to provide last kilometer medical care, particularly focused on malaria prevention, detection, and treatment for about 1.3 million Zambians,” according to Bill Feldt, a Federal Way Rotarian.

After working with the Federal Way Rotary Club on projects in the past, including a project to distribute 6,500 insecticide treated bed nets providing protection for about 10,000 Zambians, World Vision pledged in 2019 to join the Gates Foundation in matching funds raised by Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia.

Four Zambian Rotarians attended the Federal Way meeting to report the project’s progress in Zambia: Martha Lungu, Ndola Rotary Club and Executive Director of MPZ, chair of the implementation team for PMFZ; Modestine Kaoma, member of the Rotary Club of Mufulira and co-chair of Malaria Partners Zambia (MPZ); Dr. Mwangala Muyendekwa, Kalulushi Rotary Club member and co-chair of MPZ, and his wife, Saboi; Morton N’gemezulu, Kalulushi Rotary Club and Treasurer of MPZ.

“This is really an update on the malaria work the Rotary Club of Federal Way and Seattle area Rotary Clubs have been doing with Rotary Clubs in Africa for the last 12 years,” said Feldt in an email.

From 2019-2021, the efforts of these combined organizations resulted in the training, equipping, and deployment of 1,555 Community Health Workers, “providing last kilometer malaria prevention, detection, and treatment services for over 750,000 Zambians.”

When presented with these results, the Gates Foundation awarded Malaria Partners International a grant of over $500,000 to hire staff and “advocate for a worldwide Rotarian effort to eliminate malaria worldwide.”

Gates also agreed to match 100% of funds raised by the club for all Rotary malaria projects.

Malaria kills over 600,000 people every year, over 80% are children under 5, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“[Children] just haven’t built up their resistance to malaria. And if they don’t get diagnosed quickly, then they get severe malaria and then they die,” said Feldt.

Feldt went on to say that the benefit of community health workers is instead of walking 5-15 kilometers to a health center, “they’ll be treated right in their own community so they can get immediate detection and treatment.”

“The exciting thing is that world vision and the Gates Foundation seem to be excited enough that they want to expand even further,” Feldt said, “so we can turn this $6 million project into a multiple of that, both in Zambia and in other parts of Africa.”