For World Malaria Day 2012 (April 25th), PCV Tanya Riddle helped the local organization Osivela wa Yesu (“For the Love of Jesus” in local language) organize a community fair to educate the population about malaria and raise awareness of prevention strategies. Tanya was partnered with Osivela wa Yesu as her primary assignment as a health PCV. The community-based organization has been around for about twelve years, but became official about five years ago. Its objectives are the serve vulnerable children and families by providing basic needs in terms of food security and health education. Bernadette Jansen is the founding director. Tanya approached Bernadette with the idea of sponsoring an event for World Malaria Day. They agreed to that a malaria fair that is open to the general public would be an excellent idea. Community leaders were extended a personalized invitation to the event as well as families of children who are active in Osivela wa Yesu. Tanya coordinated the event with community health educators, Margarida Celestino and Ulisses, who were responsible for the educational lectures throughout the day.
The event started around 7 a.m. Volunteers set up educational stations with different malaria education and prevention topics including bed net care and repair, natural insect repellent, the malaria parasite life cycle, and nutrition.
The first station was managed by a group of community tailors who explained the simple steps to repairing a torn bed net. A community health educator coordinated the station and talked about the importance of sleeping under a bed net every night and how to increase the lifespan of your bed net.
Local community health workers Bernadette and Margarida managed the second station, which demonstrated how to make and use natural insect repellants. They explained the uses of citronella and eucalyptus plants to repel mosquitoes, such as making oil and candles, burning the leaves, and and demonstrated rubbing the body with leaves and oil. The audience was very interested in the body oil. Their primary expressed concern was finding the plants near their homes. Bernadette and Margarida are working on a system to transplant plants to people.
The final station was devoted to explaining the lifespan of the mosquito and ways to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Ulisses explained in detail the mosquito’s lifespan and how it relates to malaria. He explained how reducing the amount of stagnant water in the community can help reduce the mosquito population.
Finally, health educator Margarida Celestino discussed the importance of nutrition and how to use morgina as a way to fight malnutrition and anemia (and therefore deter some of the worst effects of malaria). The moringa session was about how to use moringa leaves, both fresh and dried, and how it helps with anemia and malaria. The session’s targeted audience was children and mothers. Of the 600 community members that attended the event, about 200 people visited and participated in the educational stations.
From 9am to 11am, several local groups performed songs, dances, and theater pieces related to malaria. The focused lessons were: use mosquito nets, go to the hospital when you feel symptoms of malaria, and clear areas of stagnant water. Two health educators presented an overview of malaria, explaining transmission, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. The general message of the day was that preventing malaria improves the quality of life for the entire community. Also, there is no time of year that malaria isn’t a problem, there is always malaria here. Tanya remarked about the day: “The biggest thing with malaria is prevention–it saves lives. We want kids to live through their childhood and become healthy, working adults and the way to do that is to keep them free from malaria.”
[quote style=”1″] The biggest thing with malaria is prevention–it saves lives. We want kids to live through their childhood and become healthy, working adults and the way to do that is to keep them free from malaria.
-PCV Tanya Riddle[/quote]