Mini Malaria Boot Camps

By Jensen Daniel
Dec. 27, 2016

“Imagine yourself swimming into a river. You want to catch a big fish you see 1 kilometer away, so you swim with all your strength against the strong current." 

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Urban Agriculture Volunteer Anna participates in a behavior change exercise.

This is El Hadj Diop, whose tremendous efforts to reduce the burden of malaria in his community have been lauded and replicated around the continent, speaking to participants of a training hosted by Senegal's volunteer-led malaria committee, Stomp Senegal.

Long a pioneer in the fight against malaria, Stomp Senegal is constantly developing new ways to train and develop malaria interventions. In an effort to increase malaria training for non-health sector volunteers, the team decided to conduct two-day intensive Mini Malaria Boot Camp trainings for Peace Corps Volunteers and Senegalese community counterparts in 3 regions of Senegal.

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Health Volunteer Camille facilitates an activity illustrating the steps of behavior change.

The Mini Boot Camp followed the model of the intensive Stomp Out Malaria in Africa "Boot Camp" training held thrice yearly in Senegal for Peace Corps staff and Volunteers from 23 African countries, both in content and form. The training included Peace Corps Volunteer trainers as well as facilitators from partner organizations also engaged in the fight against malaria in Senegal. Speakers included El Hadj Diop, President of the community-based organization Sope Naby, Madame Gnagna Dieng Sow, focal point of MACEPA in the northern city Richard Toll, and representatives from the NGO Africare. The project was funded by the Small Projects Assistance (SPA) Program.

100% of the population in Senegal is at risk of falling ill with malaria. Yet, the levels of parasitism in Senegal vary greatly by region, and so the session topics were altered slightly to fit the different environments.

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El Hadj Diop, President of Community Based Organization Sope Naby, explains the strategies he implemented to fight malaria in his community.

By including focused training sessions about the malaria burden in Senegal, the biology and transmission of malaria, and behavior change communication, volunteers and counterparts in each of the selected regions were at measure to acquire the valuable knowledge and skills necessary to implement malaria projects.

The mini boot camp directly targeted service providers in the health sector. Peace Corps Volunteer and counterpart participants received skills and training in malaria prevention and control in order to become better community mobilizers and educators. The Stomp team is currently working to support participants in the planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of their community projects and events.

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During a home visit, Health Volunteer Lindsay unfolds a mosquito net to check for holes.

Volunteers and counterparts also drafted site action plans for specific malaria-related projects and activities they planned to implement upon returning to their communities. The follow-up and data collection for these action plans is currently underway.

In addition, the training served as a recommitment exercise: like-minded individuals with diverse skills and expertise came together to re-energize their commitment to eliminate malaria from Senegal, and to infuse their toolkit with fresh skills and ideas.

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Africare of Tambacounda was able to support and host Peace Corps' mini malaria bootcamp.

More than anyone, El Hadj knows the importance of dedication and commitment in this uphill battle.

"You swim and swim, and you finally catch the fish with your bare hands. You have reached your goal, but the hardest work remains to be completed—getting yourself and this big fish back to shore. We have made great strides in the fight against malaria. I have worked for over 15 years to bring the malaria burden in Thienaba Seck close to 0%, but the hardest work—to maintain this success and help others to reach the same goal—still remains.”

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Health Volunteer Melissa works with her counterpart Fatimetou Ba to repair and wash a mosquito net.
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Madame Gnagna Dieng, focal point of MACEPA in Richard Toll, explains how MACEPA is engaged in malaria control.
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Health district representative Sabouye Mbaye excitedly demonstrates proper utilization of a newly transformed mosquito net.
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Health Volunteer Lindsay works with her counterpart Sadio Ba to create an action plan for a malaria project in their community.
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El Hadj Diop led a successful roundtable discussion about elimination of malaria in the community with Volunteers and counterparts.
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Northern regions of Senegal like St. Louis are in the "pre-elimination" control phase of malaria. Intense surveillance of parasitism brought them to this point, but further work is necessary if the status is to be maintained. Volunteers, counterparts, and guest facilitators in St. Louis shared experiences and motivated one another in the collaborative fight against malaria.
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Congratulations to the participants and facilitators of the Toubacouta Mini Malaria Bootcamp for their hard work and engagement.