Malaria Educational Awareness Campaign in The Gambia
By Dr. Emma Bruce, Executive Director, Malaria Partners West Africa
Taking up 2 of Rotary’s main focus areas which are Fighting Diseases and Saving mothers and children, the Rotary Malaria Committee of The Gambia carried out the following programme: Educational Awareness program for Pregnant Women, Mothers and Caregivers on malaria prevention at local health centers and hospitals during antenatal consultation days and pediatric outpatient clinics.
Children under 5 years old and pregnant women are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria. A pregnant woman affected by malaria can develop maternal anaemia and placenta parasitaemia which can lead to low birth weight, spontaneous abortion, or even infant mortality. Children under 5 years old affected by malaria can suffer from severe dehydration due to high fever plus anemia, hypoglycemia,
and seizures. For these reasons, we found it of utmost importance to reach out to pregnant women and mothers of children under 5 years old to ensure that they are aware of the dangers of malaria and educate them on various malaria prevention methods to keep them and their families free from malaria.
The Malaria Prevention Educational Awareness Campaign was conducted in May 2022 in major hospitals in the urban areas of The Gambia aimed at reaching pregnant women and mothers of children under 5 yrs. old during their antenatal clinic days and pediatric outpatient days respectively at hospitals in the urban populated areas of The Gambia.
The main highlight of this campaign is the use of drama performances by a professional drama group to educate the women on the importance of taking the malaria prophylaxis medication for pregnant women and teaching the mothers how to identify malaria symptoms in children and encouraging them to take the children to the nearest health center for them to be tested for malaria whenever they detect malaria symptom. The drama group makes it a fun and easier way for the audience to capture key messages on malaria prevention which makes them understand it better.
Antenatal nurses, public health officers and representatives of the National Malaria Control Programme, Regional Health Directorate, Catholic Relief Services representatives all join in to give health talks on malaria prevention to the pregnant women and mothers.
This activity was carried out in 2 major hospitals in The Gambia, Kanifing General Hospital and Bundung Maternal and Child’s Health Hospital several time a week for over a month. About 1500 pregnant women and mothers of children under 5 years old were beneficiaries of this important malaria educational awareness campaign.
The Rotary Malaria Committee of The Gambia joined hands with the Ministry of Health in The Gambia, the National Malaria Control Programme, Regional Health Directorate and the Catholic Relief Services to carry out this malaria sensitization campaign focusing on the most vulnerable groups of the population affected by malaria which are the pregnant women, and children under 5 years old.
On September 8th, 2023, the Rotary International President Gordon McInally announced that Rotary and its partners World Vision and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be implementing the Rotary Healthy Communities Challenge which will build on the successes of the Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia project and scale that work to 3 other countries.
Malaria Partners West Africa has been engaging with PATH and The Gambia’s Ministry of Health and National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) to design a new initiative aimed at strengthening community case-based surveillance for malaria in the North Bank Regions of The Gambia.
By Peter Mubanga Ng’andu – Rotaract Club of Lusaka
As a Project Management & M&E professional, I believe in data driven interventions and that’s why when an opportunity to volunteer in Data Quality Audits (DQA) emerged, I gladly took it in the spirit of service above self.