We sure have been busy here at Stomp Guinea! There are so many exciting things are going on in malaria prevention that we barely have a moment to stop and breathe (and update this blog)! From new projects, assignments, and partner trainings to bed net distribution campaign planning and training the newest group of Peace Corps Guinea Trainees, there is a more to update you on than we can fit in one blog post. That just means you can expect more soon! To start off, I’d like to announce five new Regional Malaria Coordinators (RMCs) who will be leading the charge for volunteers’ malaria prevention efforts. Volunteers in Basse-Côte have Megan Townsend and Brittany Dodson as malaria coordinators, those in Fouta/Moyenne Guinea can look to Emma Schaberg O’Brien for advice, and everyone in Haute Guinée can call up Adrian Arellano and Lane Goodman! These coordinators have committed to six months of supporting the volunteers in their regions by helping to choose/develop project ideas, transferring technical knowledge, and helping network with partner organizations. Our RMCs have been kicking things off in a big way, proving they are more than up to the challenges of their position! Brittany, Emma and Megan have been working with NGOs Faisons Ensemble and Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP). These organizations are USAID/President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) implementing partners, meaning that they have been selected to implement a specific projects or trainings that USAID/PMI have decided are important. This prioritization is done on a yearly basis in consultation with PMI works and National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) and other organizations. For this year one of the needs identified was the training up of health workers to update their knowledge and increase their capacities to provide quality care to malaria patients.
In these trainings, our volunteers have learned about malaria case management and treatment alongside the Guinean health workers. Volunteers gained a better understanding of the local health system and benefited from the opportunity to get to know some local health workers and trainers. The trainings involved hands-on demonstrations, visits to local health facilities and brainstorming action plans. In an upcoming blog post we’ll be featuring a more detailed recap of from Emma on her training with Faisons Ensemble, so stay tuned!
In other news, RMCs Megan and Lane have been regularly holding malaria awareness talks in their communities. These projects are great examples of relatively simple yet highly impactful ways that our volunteers can raise awareness about the malaria burden in their communities and how to reduce it.
Lane, a public health volunteer, runs a local mixed-gender youth group in the region of Kankan (Upper Guinea). Participants in the group, who range in age from 17 to 24 years old, meet three times a week to discuss various health topics such as HIV prevention, family planning, diarrhea and general hygiene. Recently, Lane has been taking a lot of time to discuss the number one health problem in Guinea – malaria! The discussions included transmission, symptoms and biological effects of the disease, high risk groups and prevention methods such as bed net usage and clearing stagnant water.
Over near the coast in the region of Boké, Megan assists the trained health workers in her community in giving malaria talks at her health center. The primary audience for this sensitization is pregnant women who are coming to the center for their pre-natal checkup, where they antimalarial drugs. Pregnant women are at especially high risk for malaria infection and children born to mothers who are sick with malaria are at a high risk for complications during birth and other health problems. It is important to make ensure that women understand the importance of taking their medication, and Megan is doing a great job of supporting the health center staff in transmitting that knowledge. Another upcoming post here will profile this great work!
Unfortunately, in the midst of all of this great work we have also had to say a few difficult goodbyes recently as three invaluable members of the Peace Corps Guinea malaria community have left our program. Shane Capps and Ryan Trubits, two of our original RMCs, have left Guinea to return to the United States. They will be sorely missed for their energy, enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and strong intellects! We are very fortunate that they have helped us create a strong base for Stomp Guinea and we wish them the best in their future endeavors. In true Stomping out Malaria in Africa spirit, they have both offered to support our malaria program from afar, taking full advantage of the online tools we use in the Stomping out Malaria in Africa Initiative!
The third member of our community to part ways with Peace Corps Guinea is Public Health APCD Abdoul Fadiga, who has been an important part of Peace Corps Guinea for the past year. He has been a strong supporter of our malaria initiative and his expertise will be greatly missed. We all wish him the best of luck in his continued studies and work!
That’s all for now, come back again soon for more updates from Stomp Guinea!