On the 15th August 2014, Malawi Volunteer Organisation (MVO) has successfully reduced Monkey Bay villagers contact with Mosquitos through a systematic volunteer program.
‘People in Monkey day are very aware of the threat of Malaria, and this program is seeing some great benefits, not only in providing equipment, but of increasing understanding on prevention of this deadly disease’, said a representative from Monkey Bay community hospital.
The Malaria program has been running for over 7 years and is serving the estimated 14,591 people of Monkey Bay. The project is based in the area at the southern end of Lake Malawi. Here they face additional problems with their location because it is well know that Malaria is a waterborne parasite. ‘Being the poorest people are effected the most as they do not have the financial resources to protect their huts and themselves adequately against the mosquito transmitted disease’, said MVO director Francis Njanje.
Malawi has a population of about 10,000,416 with 90% of the population living in the rural areas. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with over half of the population living below the poverty line and an average daily income of less than 60 US Cents. In fact, worldbank.org report that over 50.7% live below the poverty line and that the average life expectancy is 55 years of age. This is why the MVO malaria protection program is such an important program in reducing fatalities in Malawi.
Give Giving a Go can report that the project itself came in response to the fact that ‘long term induction of prophylactics (in confronting malaria) is not considered an option due to the rapid build up of resistance to oral drugs. For local communities the best options to prevent malaria is to minimise the contact with mosquitos’, highlighted Francis. Therefore, prevention techniques are needed to overcome this epidemic. ‘Sleeping under mosquito nets at night, retiring indoors as soon as possible after dusk, covering exposed parts of the body by wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts, burning of coils and lanterns filled with mosquito repellent, placing fine gauze over all window openings and spraying interior walls with long term mosquito repellent are all the best ways to reduce contact with mosquitos’, concluded Francis.
Malaria is an epidemic in Africa and in fact, the World Health Organization reports that Africa accounts for 85% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths worldwide. It is transmitted by the female Anofeles mosquito and MVO state that ‘the malaria parasite enters the human blood stream by being bitten by a malaria carrying Anofeles mosquito. The parasite then rapidly multiplies in the blood stream and the symptoms of malaria develop when the red blood cells begin to be destroyed’. The further vulnerable location of the MVO project is highlighted by Francis who said, ‘the low lying areas along the shores of Lake Malawi are recognised as a year round risk area for malaria as the mosquitos breed near marshes and still water’.
Volunteers are enlisted on this project to stay for 4 weeks and work with up to 3-5 homesteads per day. Volunteers work in teams with a local Malawian malaria liaison officer who facilitates their work and provides interpretation. ‘The work is fantastic and we: distribute mosquito nets purchased with our funding, impregnate each net with long term mosquito repellent, re-impregnate and repair existing mosquito nets, spray the interior walls of each building in the homestead, conduct malaria prevention education lessons with the members of the homestead, conduct malaria prevalence research with each homestead for long term assessment of project results’, said Mitch Payne, the MVO volunteer coordinator.
The Malawi Volunteer Organisation was established by Francis Njanje, a native Malawian in 2001. ‘Through my association with other organisations I realised the need to establish a Malawi based volunteer placement organisation that had greater understanding of the local needs’, said Francis. MVO now run medical, teaching, sport and community programs. The malaria program is just one of these projects.
‘We are so happy with the help they have given us. Our house is sprayed and we have good mosquito nets and burning coils to stop them attacking’, said a local villager.
These type are programmes are, therefore, not just beneficial, but essential to those fighting to survive in such hard conditions. ‘The majority of Malawi’s population lives in rural areas in mud hut homesteads. Due to the extreme poverty levels, the people in rural areas have to rely on international donor aid for the acquisition of mosquito nets’, concluded Mitch Payne.
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