As April approaches, so does Malaria Month! Peace Corps Guinea is proud to announce its first ever Malaria Month contest. The one-month countdown to World Malaria Day, on April 25th, has begun. While this day is a momentous time for raising awareness about the disease, malaria transmission occurs year-round in Guinea. According to the Ministry of Health, it is the primary single cause of medical consultations and hospitalizations in the country. In light of this information, it is not surprising that malaria is also the number one cause of death in Guinea. One day of focusing on malaria is hardly sufficient, so Stomp Guinea decided to join a number of other Peace Corps countries in designating April as Malaria Month.
Here in Guinea, we just completed a series of three malaria trainings for 39 Peace Corps Guinea Volunteers. The trainings were held in Peace Corps’ regional offices in Labe (for the Fouta region), Kankan (for the Haute Guinée region) and the capital of Conakry (for the Basse Côte region). Participants learned about the effect of malaria on Guineans, malaria epidemiology, common prevention methods, and technical skills such as mosquito net repair and washing, as well as how to lead a malaria-themed educational talk. The basis for these trainings was the knowledge gained from Malaria Boot Camp in Senegal, a training that 6 current volunteers have attended. More details about these excellent trainings will come out on this blog soon as we finish processing all the great photos, data and feedback from this events! In addition to learning about malaria and gaining new technical skills, one of the exciting things that happened during these trainings was planning for Malaria Mont
Guinea is divided up into four natural regions, three of which currently host Peace Corps Volunteers. Each region has its own cultures and traditions, and this shapes the volunteer experience. As volunteers become integrated into their host communities, they invariably take on a sense of regional pride (and are rarely shy about letting others know)! This April, all volunteers have committed to fighting malaria in their communities and, in doing so, settling (at least until next April!) which region produces the most motivated and active Volunteers.
So what kind of activities are Volunteers doing during malaria month? Many of them are working with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who will be distributing long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets (LLINs) in their communities. This is Guinea’s first nationwide bed net distribution campaign. Each volunteer will to ensure that their community receives a sufficient supply of nets, and the national distribution also provides an opportunity for building partnerships between Peace Corps and many national and local organizations.. Volunteers helped with the community census to determine how many nets each community will receive, aided in explaining the data compilation software to local organizations, and assisted community health workers in doing educational talks on malaria. Many volunteers are adding value to the national campaign by initiating community education projects. Volunteers are planning awareness-raising soccer tournaments, bike tours of remote villages to do educational talks, mosquito net care/repair/transformation events and are writing messages to being broadcast daily on local radio stations.
So, how do we judge which region is the most motivated and active in malaria prevention? Each malaria activity that Peace Corps Guinea Volunteers do is pre-assigned a point value, and at the end of the month we add up the number of points that volunteers have earned for their region. Point values have been determined by our malaria coordinators, who are also malaria month team leaders! The region with the most points at the end of the month wins ultimate bragging rights, as well as a cash prize to be shared by all volunteers in their region!
See below the full list of exciting activities (to be linked to below).