On September 4th, Health Peace Corps Volunteers Jason Hillis and Kyle Tharp coordinated a training on malaria prevention, early detection and treatment, and the dangers of HIV/AIDS and malaria co-infection. In conjunction with PIRCOM (Inter-Religious Program Against Malaria) in Homoine, Inhambane Province, and funded by PEPFAR (U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), a total of 26 participants, including community activists, religious leaders, and local traditional healers (curandeiros) received information and learned about the parasite which greatly affects the surrounding community..
The morning session was facilitated by Matteus Fernando from PIRCOM, who is also a respected member of the local community. He followed a special training module designed by PIRCOM and Peace Corps Volunteers. The group discussed methods of prevention, common barriers to preventive practices, and ways to encourage fellow community members to adhere to prevention and immediate treatment advice.
The day ended with an afternoon session from a doctor at the local hospital on HIV/AIDS and malaria co-infection. Given the fact that many of the activists’ work is related to HIV/AIDS, the Volunteers felt it was important to build on the knowledge that many of the health activists already had. Afterwards, participants shared what they learned during the day, and clarified pending questions.
When asked to describe the most successful part of the training, Jason told a story of a woman who had approached him during the day. She was a local traditional healer, and had pulled Jason aside to thank him for inviting her to participate. She mentioned the fact that most traditional healers are not formally educated in health topics, and she found the information fascinating and extremely helpful to her work. Jason and Kyle’s event will be replicated by more Volunteers throughout Mozambique in the coming months, with the objective that each Health Volunteer in Mozambique who works with community activists in the area of HIV/AIDS will also train them in malaria prevention and treatment.