By: Adam Biddle
World Malaria Day in Ashanti Region took place on April 24th, 2012 in the towns of Ahodwo and Sakora Wonoo. The event started like any other event in Ghana, with loud music to draw attention. Once a crowd had formed, myself (Adam Biddle), Spencer Campbell, Amit Mookerjeet, and our Ghanaian translator and friend, Theophilus Appiah-Antwi, began probing the crowd for what information they knew about malaria. Almost all knew that it came from mosquitos, and many could identify the symptoms associated with malaria. Praise for people’s past education and the Universal Coverage program for mosquito nets is in order because many knew the best way to protect themselves was to use a mosquito net and wear long clothing. However, there were some children who owned a mosquito net, but did not have it up because “they did not know how to hang it.” We showed how easy it is to hang a net, and reinforced by asking them “What will you do when you go home tonight?” with the answer being “Hang my mosquito net.”
The best teaching aid of the day was the “High Risk-Low Risk” card game. The card that was most effective was the pregnant woman visiting the clinic to take her IPTP. Many did not know it is recommended for pregnant women to take medication during pregnancy to prevent transferring of malaria to the fetus. They also did not know pregnant women are more likely to get malaria due to physiological factors like extra body heat, higher CO2 levels, etc. This made for a great opportunity to educate the audience further.
The World Malaria Event went as well as could be expected. The crowd was very receptive to us, and was even excited to participate in our interactive discussions. All demographics were targeted, from young children, boys and girls, to grow adult men and women. We spoke with nearly 60 children, 30 teenagers, and 40 adults and elderly people. Each person had their unique level of knowledge about malaria, but everyone benefited by having malaria prevention being brought back into consciousness and remembering that it is a fact of life here and we need to protect ourselves to live long and healthy lives.