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Communities taking lead on Malaria Prevention

By Mohamed Konneh

Treated bed nets hung on ropes at Sombo Street in Kenema

Madam Hawa Samai is a mother of two living on Sombo Street in Kenema. Together with her husband they stay with their two children and other family members.

Madam Hawa is a beneficiary of the just distributed long lasting treated bed nets across the country.

She was spotted spreading the bed net outside so as to loosen it up as directed by nurses during the distribution.

“This is what we were told when I went for my own supply, that we should hang the net outside for a whole day before it is hung on the bed.

As a mother I know how dangerous malaria is as children continue to die as a result of malaria illness. I have also been sick with malaria including my children before now. Malaria is bad because it discomfort you when you are sick with the illness. But with the mosquito nets that has been given to us by government we will now prevents ourselves from it, she said”.

Malaria is dangerous and most communities are now taking actions to prevent themselves from the disease.

As Malaria continues to be among the illnesses that affect people more frequently, especially pregnant women, lactating mothers including children sensitization and awareness raising is key. Sensitization on Community radio stations are now imminent as part of effort to deal with the disease and for communities to understand the importance of treated bed nets. At Sombo Street in Kenema and its surrounding, most community people listen to radio drama programmes on malaria and relate well with it.

Madam Hawa knows the hour when programmes come up on malaria.

“We always listen to malaria programmes on radio and this is helping us to prevent our families from the disease.  For quite a while now I have not been sick with malaria neither any member of my family. The treated bed nets are the key tool that prevents us from malaria couple with the cleaning of our surrounds. We now know that mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, unclean surroundings and gutters, she said.”

According to Sierra Leone Strategic plan on Malaria control, the illness remains a serious public health challenge causing immense morbidity and mortality. It is a major impediment to socio-economic development leading to poverty. Substantial malaria control investments have been made in Sierra Leone in the last decade in the context of the National Malaria Plans, 2004-2008, 2011 –2015 and 2016-2020.

The Malaria Strategic Plan 2016-2020 gives direction towards the improvement of the health status of the population and the fight against poverty by reducing the burden due to malaria. Much progress has been made over the past years and there has been a decline in malaria cases and deaths.

However, there is a major challenge in sustaining funding in the current global financial crisis and a sustained financing plan that needs to be developed through enhancing domestic resources.

This current Malaria Strategic Plan is from 2016-2020 and focuses on universal coverage access of malaria control interventions and calls for scaling up of these interventions. It calls for scaling up of these known cost-effective interventions for impact.

These are determining factors in the success or failure of a malaria control program. Influences from the larger context (political, social, cultural, environmental, and economic) in which people live their daily lives affect personal choices and may influence whether a control program is sustainable. For example, access to health care and the ability to buy antimalarial drugs may be predicated on several things, such as personal knowledge about malaria, extent of poverty, seasonal variations in income, or even whether or not a functional road or transportation system exists.

In communities where Madam Hawa Samai resides poverty is prevalent and this is a real threat in fighting malaria.

However, communities both rural and urban communities are very much into taking basic steps such as the use of treated bed nets, listening to radio programmes on Malaria and cleaning their surroundings.

Usifu Bawoh lives in Taninahun Community in Pujehun District and one among community champions that educate communities on malaria prevention.

He said malaria is dangerous noting that when you are sick with the disease, eating normal food will be a challenge.

“Your lost taste and experience frequent fever and if you do not go for early treatment you will likely lose your life.

He said mothers who treat their sick children at home end up losing their child and the reason they are now reaching out to people within the community with malaria messages.

“We do rounds within the community on daily basis to check for sick children and advised their parents to take them to the clinic if they sick or feeling unwell, he said.

 

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