Stomping Out Malaria’s Boot Camp IV in Senegal was the first to include volunteers from the small West African nation of Sierra Leone. Re-opening after 16 years, Peace Corps Sierra Leone currently has only an education sector in operation. Having teachers in secondary schools all over the country will allow us to teach the youth of Sierra Leone facts about malaria, how it is tramsmitted, and how families can most effectively protect themselves and their children from the disease.
At boot camp, we learned vital tactics for conducting the formative research essential to properly assess the malaria dilemma in Sierra Leone. We discussed the difficulties of affecting behaviour change, analyzed its process, and brainstormed on how to bring it about and make it sustainable.
Doctors from the CDC, NIH, and the Kyle Lab of USF taught us how the lifecycle of the parasite works, and the realities of preventative medication, from drug resistancy to the eventual implementation of a vaccine (RTS,S). We observed the inner-workings of the Senegalese medical institutions, visiting health huts, field posts, and hospitals, discussed the availability of medicine, how the supply chain is organized, and were able to witness proper patient care that was transparent and precise.
When we return to Sierra Leone, through a partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), we intend to meet with representatives from the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Technology (MEST) to plan the implementation of malaria education into the national curriculum.
In July, we will present the Stomping Out Malaria strategy plan of action for the 42 trainees who will swear in as volunteers in August. We will give them our minimum expectations of their role in this fight: making lesson plans in their various subjects that educate about malaria, and collecting data on the malaria situation in their village through a baseline survey that we are in the process of creating.
A similar presentation will be conducted at the Mid-Service Conference for the Salone 2 volunteers currently in the field on the 30th of August.
We look forward to updating soon on our progress!
Liam Flaherty and Eric Silverman
Malaria Team Coordinators