Campaigning for a malaria-free community
At least 80 mothers with children under five years attended a malaria awareness session in Lufubu catchment area, Mwansabombwe district, Zambia on 8 February 2019. The objective of the session was to guide participants in identifying the symptoms of malaria for their children under 5 years.
“Always have your children sleep under an insecticide treated net all night throughout the year. Look out for signs such as child’s inactiveness or loss of appetite and symptoms such as high or frequent fevers, vomiting, diarrhoea joint pains and headaches. Don’t wait until your child is critically ill before going to a health centre for treatment with an anti-malaria drug. Remember that traditional doctors do not have the malaria reagents or testing kits to conduct a rapid test in their vicinity. Expectant mothers should always remember to correctly uptake the three dose of intermittent preventive treatment (such as Fansidar) and generally accept indoor residual house spraying as an elimination method,” urged Community Based Volunteer Jackson Mwansa as he addressed the mothers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) 2017 World Malaria Report indicates that 90% of malaria cases in 2016 were in the African region. Of the 91 countries reporting indigenous malaria cases in 2016, 15 countries – all in sub-Saharan Africa, except India – carried 80% of the global malaria burden. The same report indicates that 3 million of Zambia’s entire population of approximately 17 million were diagnosed with malaria in 2016, with about 7% of the cases progressing to severe malaria.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Zambia programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) is implementing a malaria-free project in Mawansabombwe and Chienge Districts of the Luapula Province under The Programme for the Advancement of Malaria Outcomes (PAMO) consortium.
“We partnered with AAH-I and kicked off this project in June 2018 to complement the National Malaria Elimination Centre’s goal of eliminating malaria by 2021. In our previous efforts we noticed a gap in cohesive sensitization in the community. With AAH-I we have been able to reach at least 56,000 people, including in remote places. At least 56,000 people have been reached since June 2018,” said Environmental Health Officer Martine Nyambe from the Ministry of Health working under Mukamba Rural Health Centre.
Martin Mulenga, from the government-run Lufubu Rural Health Centre adds, “Only 29 patients tested positive for malaria out of the 78 tested in the last week of January 2019. The cases are progressively reducing. Our coverage of communities has also increased from 91% to 94% in 2018.”
Also present at the session was Chibanga village headman Bernard Chola. “I emphasize on prevention measures such as keeping the environment clean to avoid mosquitoes breeding areas, and the correct use of insecticide treated nets in my community. The prevention messages we hear at these meetings have contributed to reduced malaria-related deaths.” The project works with local leaders to pass malaria-free messages during traditional ceremonies, village meetings and during the formation of community bylaws that includes malaria-related bylaws.
The session concluded with children under 5 years having their weight measured, and a rapid test for malaria for some of them. Other organizations under the PAMO consortium are the US Presidential Malaria Initiative, PATH, JHPIEGO, John Hopkins Centre for Communication Programs, Zambia Center for Applied Health Research and Development and BroadReach Institute for Training & Education.