â€śPure Water! Pure water! Kpono! Kpono! Tomate! Tomate! Palu! Palu!… wait palu?” The market is often filled with the shouts of women selling their goods, but in Togolese villages the market has now become a forum for discussion on malaria (in Togo we say palu).
The market is not just the commercial or economic center of most Togolese villages. It is also the social center. And thatâ€™s why PCVs in Togo are taking malaria awareness to the market. From informational market stands to selling neem cream to skits performed by peer educator groups, volunteers are taking advantage of one of the most bustling community spaces in Togo.
Hereâ€™s what happened when one volunteer in Southern Centrale region paired up with her local community health agents and her Care group women to promote malaria awareness in the market place:
- 16 community health agents were dispersed throughout the market with informational posters which outlined malaria transmission and prevention.
- In the center of the market, 2 community health agents sat under a mosquito net on a mat to draw attention to the dayâ€™s events and open a forum for discussion on bed net usage.
- Nine Care Group women, posted signs around the market which said, â€śI donâ€™t like malaria,â€ť or â€śNow is the time to eradicate malaria,â€ť etc.
- Five Care group women used their market tchouk stands to promote bed net use by facilitating discussions on malaria transmission and prevention.
These awareness activities allowed community members to discuss malaria in a casual environment. Walking around the market during and after the activities, malaria was clearly on everyoneâ€™s mind. Where normally people would have been socializing with their friends about what they did in the past week, people were asking question about malaria discussing rumors and myths and sharing their knowledge about malaria.
Malaria kills hundreds of children a year in Togo. The best way to stop these unnecessary deaths is to make sure people are preventing the disease by using their bed nets every night. That means making sure community members understand malaria transmission and the importance of sleeping under a net. And what better place to start those discussions than the local market.