SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE – The World Health Organization in partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria, has supported the Ministry of Health in Sao Tome and Principe in the fight against malaria.

They conducted an External Competency Assessment for Microscopists from 09 – 20 January 2023 to ensure there is a pool of WHO-certified expert malaria microscopists in the country that contribute to the national malaria elimination agenda.

This was the first time that Sao Tome and Principe held such a workshop.

The two-weeks ECAMM training of 12 national microscopists included one week of refresher training and one week of assessment.

The training and evaluation were conducted by two experts from University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (UCAD), a WHO collaborative center for malaria for francophone and lusophones-speaking countries, Dr. Mamadou Alpha Diallo and Professor Ndiaye Daouda.

This ECAMM resulted in three microscopists certified for level 1 or 2 and nine microscopists certified for level 3 or 4.

Sao Tome and Principe, therefore, now has three WHO-certified microscopists, which is a good score for a small island country of about 220,000 habitants, compared to other countries in the region. 

Professor Daouda Ndiaye, the director of ECAMM courses reiterated the commitment of the University of Cheik Anta Diop of Dakar, Senegal to continue to support Sao Tome and Principe for malaria microscopy.

WHO Country Representative Dr. Françoise Bigirimana stated that WHO will continue to provide technical support to build capacity and maintain the competency level of microscopists and other human resources for health in the country.

She highlighted that it is essential to have effective skill-based trainings, periodic assessment and monitoring of performance in the area of diagnosis for malaria and other priority diseases in the country.

WHO is committed to support the country to fight and eliminate diseases and progress towards Universal Health Coverage in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

The Minister of Health, Célsio Junqueira, emphasized that the final stage of elimination is more challenging and demanding.

He highlighted the crucial role of human resources for health and called for increased engagement of microscopists and other health workers towards elimination of malaria in the country.

Finally, he acknowledged the south-to-south cooperation between African countries like Senegal and Sao Tome and Principe for this ECAMM.

Sao Tome and Principe has succeeded in reducing malaria incidence in the country in the last two decades. The annual incidence is currently around 18/1000 inhabitants.

The country was intending to eliminate malaria by 2025. However, the country has recorded the following increasing cases in the past three years:1944, 2730 and 3999 respectively for 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Then this 2025 target seems to be compromised possibly due to the COVID-19 impact and climate change effects that Sao Tome and Principe has experienced in the last three years.

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