By Eric Liswaniso, Programs Manager, Malaria Partners Zambia
In all my travels to some of the remotest parts of Muchinga province, monitoring our malaria elimination work, I have always wondered where and how the residents of these villages get their essential amenities from; seeing as there’s seldom any shops or markets around in most cases. Getting to the rural health centers we support usually takes long hours of driving through rough terrain and is particularly harder during the rainy season. While the ride is for us an adventure, I often find myself wondering just where do they get their clothes, replacement parts for bicycles, food, etc.?
As part of our social behavioral change communication efforts in Muchinga, we travel to remote communities to create awareness about malaria through drama and cultural dances. We also use the time to bring awareness to the work of the community health workers, explaining the very important role they play in delivering quality healthcare to their neighbors.
Zambians love to dance. The drum beat sounds, accompanied by some sweet traditional Zambian songs, and in no time crowds gather. At the height of the musical euphoria, the District Health Promotions Officer (DHPO) interrupts proceedings with his loud megaphone to address the gathered masses with malaria prevention and control messages. He explains how malaria is transmitted, how it can be prevented and how it is treated in simple layman terms.
Using the local language of the area, he also ceases the moment to sensitize the community on the current cholera outbreaks in selected parts of the country. He warns them to take necessary precautions to prevent the disease from reaching their community. Covid-19 messaging is also a mainstay at all public gatherings, lest communities drop their guard.
The Munada is a monthly community market where local and visiting traders bring their merchandise to the local community to sell. Once every month, the community has an opportunity to buy all the essential necessities they cannot find locally.
Much like an urban thrift market, the Munada is a fun and engaging activity. The district health management team loves to target these events for community engagements. And we were lucky to be part of 2 fun-packed Munadas in Shiwang’andu district this February. Now I know where they get all the good stuff they need. Onto the next one.
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