What Rotary Means To Me
By Joan Kwesigabo Ahimbisibwe, Rotaract Club of Kampala North (KANOs), D9213 and Malaria Project Chair.
My name is Joan Kwesigabo Ahimbisibwe. I am from the Rotaract club of Kampala North (KANOs), D9213 and I serve as Malaria project chair.
Rotary to me is an opportunity to join a million plus individuals all over the globe in making the world a better place for everyone in it. It is an opportunity to make beautiful friendships while making positive impacts in the communities around us. It is an opportunity to improve and better ourselves for our families, friends, and workmates and for ourselves through being better leaders.
Our malaria project is a pilot project encompassing all three major pillars of malaria prevention stipulated by the world health organization that is; use of long-lasting Insecticide treated mosquito nets, Indoor residual spraying and breaking barriers to early diagnosis and treatment. Our project has a strong emphasis on malaria education to both our peers and the community in Kakindu, Mityana District where we have our own ground project since we know prevention is much better and cheaper than cure.
So far in regards to health education our club had an online campaign for 2 weeks on our social media pages so as to increase awareness about malaria among our peers, we have also been able to teach the community using chart illustrations and group discussions with health care workers (Both community and visiting) and we were also able to have a health drive around the village where members of our club engaged in basic malaria prevention education with the community members.
We have also been able to provide free testing and treatment services to 452 people in the community of whom 43 have tested positive and have been treated. Testing has been done involving the village health teams to enable them build on their skills. We have been able to provide fansidar to 3 pregnant women.
Moving forward we intend to have one more round of offering free malaria testing and treatment services accompanied with health education which will be followed by launching of the Village health teams into the community with starter packs containing testing kits and accessories plus anti-malarial drugs. We further plan to donate fansidar to the antenatal clinic at Mwera Health center to target more pregnant women. We will be launching our indoor residual spraying activities on this same visit accompanied with giving out of 400 treated mosquito nets to the community members with unmet need. We plan to have a conference during the club charter night on 3/11/2021 to share our lessons, challenges and successes with other Rotaractors from about 100 Rotaract clubs in Uganda so as to encourage them to join this fight against malaria.
As a medical doctor interested in Pediatrics and public health, I have been exposed to numbers of children and adults struggling with malaria. It is always disappointing to lose a patient to malaria which is a preventable and curable disease. Malaria can be prevented through basic changes in behavior and environment. If diagnosed early, it can be treated easily within 3 days. It is always unfortunate to find patients who have cerebral malaria, kidney failure or even liver failure which makes it much harder to manage. It is very unfortunate especially because many of these patients cannot afford the treatment at hospital level and this makes inequalities in our communities even bigger since the cost implications of malaria are more amongst those of low social-economic status.
Malaria in Uganda has been a very big challenge for several years. Interventions are existent and they have contributed to the drop in the positive cases. These interventions such as indoor residual spraying, distribution of treated mosquito nets and early treatment are effective in dropping the number of cases. However, there is a big challenge in the sustainability of these interventions because of financial implications. As a result, the incidence of malaria cases has been fluctuating. Therefore, collaborations should be made between the government and different stake holders to ensure sustainability of these programs. Whilst choosing malaria champions in each village attached to the Local council committee as direct contacts in the village regarding all malaria activities.
We at KANOs have selected VHTs as our malaria champions in Kakindu, we will be having bi-annual meetings with them to receive feedback from them and see how we can assist them as a club or table them to appropriate stakeholders.
We are also willing to support and encourage other Rotaract clubs to take on malaria projects to create a ripple effect in the malaria fight.
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