Strengthening Health Systems in the City of Saint Louis, Senegal
Malaria and other treatable tropical diseases cause debilitating conditions in Africa. The World Health Organization estimates that with malaria alone there are 219 million cases a year with 660,000 deaths contributed to the disease. Inaction by the global community could kill 196,000 more people and sicken 430 million each year. In Senegal, malaria is still the second leading cause of death in Senegal and the first among children under the age of five. Other neglected tropical diseases such as, Schistosomiasis and intestinal worms are chronic diseases of poverty that lead to chronic ill-health, continue to affect those in rural areas disproportionately as compared to urban city centers. Altogether, Malaria, Schistosomiasis and other tropical diseases constitute a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Senegal.
The Government of Senegal is committed to eliminating these diseases by strengthening health systems and increasing access to healthcare. Of particular concern is the city of Saint Louis, Senegal. Just a short distance from the Mauritania border, Saint Louis, once the capital of the French Colony of Senegal has struggled withn economic decline and dilapidating healthcare infrastructure. The ability of these communities in Saint Louis to have access to basic health services, which includes trained local health professionals, strengthening research networks and upgrading physical infrastructure is critical to revitalize this area.
Empowering African scientists and building the capacity of African Research Institutions facilitates the local capacity to battle this devastating disease. The Ministry of Health and Social Action of the Republic of Senegal developed an action plan for the upgrades and management of Senegal laboratories in April 2014. Public Health is a critical determinant for the continued economic growth and prosperity of the Saint Louis region, the second commercial capital of Senegal. Support by the international community on local research in addition to prevention and treatment are needed to continue the gains made saving lives by strengthening health systems. Furthering African participation in research, treatment and prevention in Senegal has the potential to accelerate the resiliency of local institutions in region that have been tested by recent pandemics such as ebola and cholera outbreaks.
Saint Louis Capacity Building for Better Health in Africa 2015-2016
This project will be focused on the capacity building facilities in Saint Louis, Senegal approximately for testing, research and treatment of tropical diseases. Local Institutions in Saint Louis have insufficient access to essential facilities such as upgraded laboratories, libraries, computers and evidence-based data and have asked for support.
The project consists of 4 critical components and will impact the community of Saint Louis with an estimated 176,000 people. With a multiplier effect beyond the research findings this project will inform the development of a local robust health research policy to begin to address these parasitic issues.
The components include:
- Determine incidence of tropical diseases in these areas (Malaria, Schistosomiasis, Intestinal worms and neglected tropical diseases)
- Upgrade laboratories and facilities in remote health posts
- Build capacity of staff to manage those laboratories independently (Train the Trainer method)
- Develop epidemiological studies targeting vectors of these diseases (Anopheles mosquitoes and Bulinus snails)
Scaling the Model
Given the strategic location of the Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco, the Tenerife Government, private sector, and University System have collaborated on previous health projects in Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde and Peru. The Atlantic Platform for Promoting Research and Control on Tropical Diseases continues to bring together hospitals, research institutions and public health centers from Latin America, Africa and Europe to encourage cooperation and collaboration on the challenges of tropical diseases. The “Capacity Building in Health Project” model successful implemented in Peru, and replicated in Cape Verde.
Successful model for sustainability in prevention, diagnosis and research in Tropical Diseases:
- Training of local scientific staff ( Ph.D, scientists, technicians, specialists).
- Upgrade Lab for research and diagnostics of Tropical Diseases using molecular biology and immunology technology.
- Continued cooperation/exchanges and studies lead to better knowledge of epidemiology and improved health status in implemented countries.
The Cabildo Insular de Tenerife is deeply involved in the promotion of development projects especially in West Africa. In this framework, the government with the assistance of the Canary Islands Foundation for the Control of Tropical Diseases – whose honorary president of the Senegalese Head of State, His Excellency Mr. Macky Sall, is working on a major prevention and treatment project in the field of tropical diseases in Africa.
- University Institute of Tropical Diseases and Public Health of the Canary Islands –University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.
- L’Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis, Senegal.
- Ministére de la Santé et de L’Action Sociale du Senegal.
- Clinton Global Initiative (commitment accepted for 2015).