Peace Corps Volunteers Work Raises Awareness about Malaria
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 25, 2007 Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa join thousands of people around the world today to commemorate Africa and World Malaria Day. This years slogan identified by key partners in the fight against malaria is Free Africa from Malaria NOW!
Director Ron Tschetter said, the tragedy of Malaria is that it is largely treatable and preventable. Im proud of the work that Volunteers are doing in the area of prevention and education to help eradicate malaria and turn the tide against this devastating killer."
In areas of malaria transmission, very young children, pregnant women, and people living with HIV/AIDS are the population groups at highest risk for malaria morbidity and mortality due to weak or limited immunity. Ninety percent of all malaria deaths in Africa occur in young children, and according to The Presidents Malaria Initiative, at least 1 million infants and children under age 5 in sub-Saharan Africa die each year from malaria one approximately every 30 seconds
Peace Corps Volunteers are working to mitigate the devastating impact that malaria has on many communities in Africa and elsewhere around the world. Volunteers fill a needed niche in carrying out grassroots community-based education, and salient health education activities focused on malaria control. In Africa, health sector Volunteers work alongside their counterparts (health agents, youth groups, womens groups and others) to train local community members on the prevention of malaria. Here are a few examples:
- In Guinea, Volunteer Anders Hyatt, has been collaborating with a non-governmental organization, his health center and community volunteers to demonstrate to community members the importance of buying and using insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Hyatt and his counterparts pass through remote villages on bicycles and perform short health awareness sessions, sell nets, and give demonstrations on how to attach a net to a bed. In the past year and a half, they have distributed over 1,500 nets.
- In Burkina Faso, Volunteer Rebecca Egner worked closely with a drama troupe to address a range of health topics, including malaria, which the troupe itself decided was an important theme to address. They acted out a tale of two families; the first family wisely and quickly chooses to accompany their young child to the clinic and receive the correct treatment for malaria. Unfortunately, the second family, after choosing traditional treatments and spending lots of money in a last desperate attempt to save their child, find it is too late.
- Peace Corps Volunteers in Malawi have encouraged communities to purchase bed nets at subsidized prices for pregnant women and mothers with children less than five years. As a result, 800 community members are now using bed nets for malaria prevention.
- Peace Corps Volunteers in Mali have been working with their communities to build simple water drainage systems called soak pits and washing areas in order to eliminate standing water, reducing potential breeding ground for mosquitoes. As a result, a total of 380 such systems have been built.
Since 1961, more than 187,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.
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