China-UK-Tanzania Pilot Project on Malaria Control:Background | Updated: 2023-11-18
China's growing prosperity has led to an increased role in international affairs, particularly in global health cooperation. Alongside sending medical teams abroad, China's health authority is gradually expanding its South-South cooperation in public health. However, due to a late start in global health initiatives and limited experience in organizing, coordinating, and implementing intervention projects overseas, China still faces significant challenges in global health, particularly in the local context. Recognizing the longstanding partnership between the Chinese and British governments, they have identified global health as a new area of strategic cooperation. In 2012, the former UK Department for International Development (DFID) initiated a new type of health development cooperation project named the China-UK Global Health Support Programme (GHSP).
Malaria is a highly prevalent infectious disease that poses a significant threat to nearly half of the global population. The African Region of the World Health Organization (WHO) is especially susceptible, with approximately 95% of all malaria cases occurring in this region. Tanzania is among the four African countries that contribute to more than half of all malaria-related deaths, with a mortality rate of 4%. As a result, Tanzania faces substantial obstacles in the prevention and control of malaria. With the remarkable achievement in malaria control and elimination, China's extensive expertise in this field has played a pivotal role in shaping the basis of China-Africa collaboration.
The China-UK-Tanzania Pilot Project on Malaria Control signifies China's inaugural endeavor in public health cooperation in Africa. This project represents a significant milestone in the adoption of China's "going global" approach, building on the initial outputs of the GHSP. The primary aim of the pilot project is to apply China's wealth of public health expertise and best practices in collaboration with developing nations. The project seeks to accomplish three main objectives: 1) document the lessons learned and experiences gained in implementing China's novel health cooperation model, 2) serve as a successful model for future bilateral and multilateral collaborations, and 3) support partner countries in enhancing global health capacities. The National Institute of Parasitic Diseases (NIPD) at the China CDC and the Chinese Center for Tropical Diseases Research (NIPD-CTDR) lead the pilot project, which engages 11 institutions in China and abroad, including the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI). Following approximately three years of implementation, malaria cases in the intervention areas have reduced by over 80%. Additionally, the project has facilitated the development of an effective intervention strategy known as the "1,7-malaria Reactive Community-based Testing and Response" (1,7-mRCTR) approach through the sharing of Chinese anti-malaria technology and practices.
To accomplish its objectives, the pilot project implemented a novel approach to capacity building known as "Paired Learning by Doing". This method involved close collaboration between Chinese employees, local experts, and staff members, with the goal of enhancing the capabilities of all individuals involved. Specifically, Chinese staff were paired with partners from the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), the IHI, and the local health system.
The project coordination committee and expert team provided technical assistance and evaluated the progress of the project. The "Learning by Doing" approach, specifically the "paired approach", has been widely utilized and has significantly strengthened the capacity of Chinese healthcare professionals to engage in global health activities. Moreover, this approach has played a pivotal role in training a local team for malaria prevention and control, thus ensuring the long-term sustainability of the project.