Camp Opportunity took place from February 24th to March 1st in the Upper West Region in Ghana. 36 exemplary girls from junior high school level attended the camp. The goal of the camp was to provide education on vocations, alternative livelihood projects/food security, health and diversity. It also provided training in leadership and changing gender roles in Ghana. Ghana’s SWAT team (Standing with Africa to Terminate malaria) organized an afternoon to teach participants about malaria. SWAT treasurer, Hannah Braun, led two malaria-related sessions.
The first session focused on teaching the group about malaria prevention. The objectives of the session were for the campers to become motivated to fight malaria in their village, understand the importance of malaria prevention and be able to converse which methods work the best, understand the relationship between carbon dioxide and mosquito attraction and create a mosquito trap. Hannah started the session with asking the girls to name off malaria prevention methods they were already aware of. The concepts were reinforced with visual aids to accompany each intervention. The methods that were discussed included: long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLIN), prophylaxis, indoor residual spraying (IRS), larvicide, repellent, coils, long sleeve clothing. The lesson also touched on the effectiveness of covering clean water in barrels, weeding around the household, and mosquito traps. Afterwards, the group had to put the interventions into order from most to least effective. To visually represent this, the girls made a human pyramid (3-2-1). The people on the bottom represent LLINs and prophylaxis. The girls in the middle are IRS and larviciding. On the very top represents repellents, coils, long clothing and other methods. The objective of the exercise is to teach the participants that if you take LLIN or prophylaxis out then preventing malaria will fail/fall down. If you take out the middle row, there is still prevention, but it is not as strong. If you remove just the top row, then you are still able to prevent malaria, but it is slightly less effective.
Then campers experimented with making mosquito traps as a creative way to help eliminate malaria. It was reinforced that this is not a proven or successful way to prevent malaria. The supplies needed are a 1.5 liter plastic bottle, yeast, sugar and water. Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide that you exhale. The yeast feeds off the sugar and emits the same gas, so the mosquito enters the bottle, thinking she will find food there. After the first night the traps that weren’t spilled over had ants in them and no mosquitos. This time of year is dry season; therefore, the mosquitos are few. No successful traps have been built in Ghana. SWAT malaria does not support projects that are not included in the President’s Malaria Initiative elimination strategy. The mosquito traps got the campers engaged, but SWAT malaria would not recommend copying this project because of its’ lack of proven efficacy.
The second session was based on the NightWatch Curriculum created by Malaria No More. To start off, the campers reviewed nine essential facts about malaria and read them out loud. The objectives of this session were to become aware that Africa is in the midst of a malaria crisis – a disease that kills one million people a year, with 90% of the deaths in Africa. We can solve the crisis through education. With these facts in mind, the campers were challenged to draw or write their dreams using paint and cloth. The campers were encouraged to bring their dream banners home and pin them on to their mosquito nets. Each day, they will be reminded of their dreams and the importance of sleeping under their nets every night to prevent malaria. To follow up on this activity, Peace Corps Volunteers plan to visit the campers in their homes to remind them of the activity and discuss the importance of malaria prevention.
SWAT malaria aims to incorporate at least one malaria session into every Peace Corps organized camp in Ghana. Following an evaluation from Camp Opportunity, the team plans to develop a more standardized lesson plan. The human pyramid symbolizing the importance of LLINs and prophylaxis and making the dream banners were a success for camp settings and should be replicated in other camps across the continent.
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1. Malaria is a preventable life-threatening disease that can kill you and your dreams.
2. Malaria is transmitted only by a special kind of mosquito – called the Anopheles mosquito -which primarily bites at night.
3. Malaria symptoms are fever, chills, headache, vomiting and other flu-like symptoms.
4. Malaria should be treated immediately. If you think you or someone in your family might have malaria, visit a health clinic as soon as possible. They have a test to tell if you have malaria.
5. Malaria has been eliminated in much of the world, through the use of insecticides, medicine and by sleeping under mosquito nets.
6. Malaria is preventable and curable. You have the power to end malaria deaths in your community, in your country and throughout Africa.
7. Mosquito nets at night really do work and can prevent malaria.
8. All people need to sleep under a mosquito net every night of the year, not just kids or pregnant women. Mosquito nets need to be used all year round, even when there are not many mosquitoes.
9. Mosquito nets can save your life; your goals and dreams begin under a mosquito net.