Malaria: Facing a Health Crisis with a Solid Plan
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of Africa’s largest countries and one of the continent’s most difficult environments. Its long history of war and civil conflict has exacerbated the health challenges for its people, malaria in particular. This treatable and preventable disease accounts for nearly 50 percent of deaths of children under age 5.1 In 2014, nearly 10 million malaria cases were reported in DRC, including more than 25,500 fatal cases.2 The country’s currently taxed health infrastructure makes implementing large-scale malaria control activities particularly challenging.
MEASURE Evaluation Helps Implement a Strategic Plan
In 2011, the country was designated for support from the (U.S.) President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), which provided a significant boost for malaria response. Since 2009, MEASURE Evaluation, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has been among those working to improve health information systems and malaria outcomes in DRC. With PMI helping to increase funding for malaria control from $18 million in 2010 to $50 million in 2014,3 there arose an urgent need for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) to guide program implementation and measure achievements.
Now, with support from partners to strengthen its systems and capacity, DRC’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) is making progress in its efforts to control malaria under a National Malaria Strategic Plan.4 The plan outlines ways to expand malaria control efforts across the country, including distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and malaria case management.5 MEASURE Evaluation helps in producing quality data to inform decision making to measure progress, and provides technical assistance to the NMCP.
Dr. Olivier Kakesa, who has served as the malaria M&E advisor and MEASURE Evaluation resident advisor in DRC since 2013, says, “MEASURE Evaluation and its partners have made great progress in expanding M&E capacity in DRC. For example, we support a national central database for monitoring malaria control activities. Today, all data managers at the provincial level are set up to contribute information to this system.”
Looking to the Future
Dr. Kakesa and his colleagues are now working with the NMCP and other partners to develop the National Malaria Strategic Plan for 2016–2020, as well as a National Malaria M&E Plan. “This is one of our most important tasks in expanding M&E capacity in DRC,” he says. “These plans include all the activities that will be implemented over the next five years.”
Although M&E capacity has improved, the need for further technical assistance remains, given the challenges of implementing new guidance and health management information tools. Still, Dr. Kakesa is encouraged by the achievements he’s seen so far.
“Our interventions are improving data collection across the country,” he says. “These and our efforts in documenting national health strategies and malaria M&E plans are big achievements for the country.”
 Proposed work plan for MEASURE Evaluation Phase IV, Year 2 activities to support the Democratic Republic of the Congo National Malaria Control Program, pp. 3–4.
 Ibid., p. 4.
 Ibid., pp. 3–4.