Christine Kabedi looks through the lens of her microscope. She adjusts the handle to magnify her view and fixates her eyes. The sample of patient blood comes into clear view. Under the microscope, the sample shows what is imperceptible to the human eye. Focused, she starts counting malaria parasites.
Christine is a microscopist in a laboratory in Kasanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She analyzes patient blood samples to determine if there is a malaria infection, what type of malaria parasite is responsible, and how severe the infection is. Christine’s work plays a pivotal role in diagnosing malaria in patients, tracking treatment progress, and uncovering antimalarial treatment failures. Yet for years she struggled with parasite counting and often found herself discouraged and frustrated when trying to analyze blood samples.
Malaria microscopy is no easy task, and microscopy skills require constant practice and refreshing. The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), through its flagship malaria service delivery project, PMI Impact Malaria, supports the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) in DRC to strengthen microscopists’ skills by providing training and supervision.
Christine recently participated in one of these microscopy refresher trainings. Her test scores in identifying parasites improved from 25% pre-training to 100% post-training and she finished the training at the top of her class. As a result, Christine was selected to participate in the next higher-level training to become a microscopy supervisor. “Being among the best, I was again selected for the national malaria microscopy accreditation course. At the end of this course, I was ranked among the best with the level B [status] according to the World Health Organization (WHO) certification.” Level B is the second highest level of expertise in this field and means that Christine has reached the skill set and expertise to supervise other microscopists – a coveted role.
Christine is now a nationally accredited microscopist and, in achieving Level B, Christine explains, “I have become an expert in malaria microscopy, and a supervisor and trainer … I share my knowledge with all those who need it in my health facility and during supervision to increase the critical mass of microscopists capable of improving the quality of microscopy in my province.”
Skilled microscopists are critical in ensuring patients with malaria infections receive appropriate treatment to prevent severe illness and even death. With support from PMI Impact Malaria, the NMCP in the DRC has trained 53 malaria microscopists, like Christine, to strengthen their microscopy skill sets and continues to increase its network of dedicated experts that can correctly identify malaria infections. Christine was one of nine women in her training and part of the growing number of microscopists who are women in the DRC.
Microscopy is not only her profession, but as Christine emphasizes “malaria microscopy has become my passion.’’
Header photo: Training room where Christine Kabedi was among nine other women in the class of 53 to be trained as a malaria microscopist supervisor at Katoka Health Zone, Kananga, Kasai Central Province. Photo credit: Renion Saye, IM Democratic Republic of the Congo, PMI Impact Malaria
PMI Impact Malaria is funded and technically assisted by the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and is led by Population Services International (PSI) in partnership with Jhpiego, Medical Care Development International (MCDI), and UCSF.
The information provided on this website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.