Community Health Communication and Care Help Reduce Malaria in Rural Guinea

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Ramatoulaye Diallo (right) exhibiting her child’s malaria treatment card and medicine, accompanied by Aissatou Bah with her daughter at the SMC launch in the sub prefecture of Yembéring in the prefecture of Mali.
Ousmane Condé/USAID Guinea

To ensure maximum uptake of malaria treatments, mass prevention strategies such as seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaigns (SMC) need to be well accepted by beneficiaries. Ensuring communities understand the basis for SMC and support its implementation is therefore essential. In the sub prefecture of Yembéring in the region of Labé in Middle Guinea, the USAID-funded StopPalu + activity uses sensitization meetings with local leaders, radio spots, and town announcers to disseminate relevant information during the malaria chemoprevention campaign. The activity also develops health communication messages and social and behavior change materials to inform the population in order to persuade them to get their children treated for malaria.

It was during one of these sensitization sessions that Ramatoulaye Diallo and Aissatou Bah, mothers from the sub prefecture of Yembéring, learned about the campaign.

“I have two children under five years old. Before SMC, I brought my children to the health center at least three times a month during the rainy seasons for malaria treatments,” Madame Ramatoulaye said. “But now, every year, during the SMC campaign, I give them the correct malaria medicine and they sleep under mosquito nets every night.  When I heard that the campaign was starting again, I was among the first people to bring my children.” 

In many remote communities in the Labé region, healthcare is hard to access, as the health centers are far away. For example, the journey from the community where Aissatou Bah lives involves a two-hour drive to Yembéring. The roads are mostly rough and during the rainy months, the roads and paths can become impassable. Taking a motorcycle to the health center is expensive for Aissatou whose husband is a small-scale farmer. And upon reaching the health center, she and her husband would often find that the malaria medicines they desperately needed for their children were not available. 

“In my village, before the SMC started, many children used to get sick with malaria and were bedridden for days. Our children missed many school days because of malaria.  Some of us used to take chloroquine we got from the village health center and some of the people took traditional medicine, which did not help,” says Aissatou.

But this situation changed when the StopPalu+ activity started the SMC strategy and introduced community care in 2017. Today, mothers like Aissatou Bah no longer need to travel far. Instead, they can immediately get help for their sick children, right in their village with community health workers traveling door to door to test and treat malaria. Both the malaria medication and the rapid diagnostic test are free and available everywhere. Mothers in the communities are also educated on how to administer the prevention and treatment for childhood malaria, how to hang their bed nets, and are encouraged to take their children to the health facility for immunization. 

 

Last updated: May 18, 2022

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