Written by Jocelyn Keranen and Holly Trace, Peace Corps Volunteer Leader Malaria CoordinatorÂ for Peace CorpsÂ Tanzania
While the number of deaths caused by malaria has dropped drastically in the last few years, thousands of people are still dying every year in Tanzania from this preventable disease. Last week, the Tanzania Malaria Team (TMT) held the first of two in-service malaria trainings scheduled for 2015. Ten Volunteers and their respective counterparts attended the training and were asked to do some research about the malaria situation in their villages before they arrived. Myles Hartman, an Education Volunteer in the Tabora region of Tanzania, discovered malaria is one of the main illnesses in his community with an average of 3,000 cases diagnosed per month. This overwhelming number stresses the community and the health care workers, where trained professionals are few and far between. He came to the training hoping to learn different ways to address this problem in his village.
The training was designed to build on itself, with each day providing more information and hands-on practice that makes implementing a project back in the village easier. Each Volunteer attends the training with one counterpart, whom they have identified as their primary partner in malaria education. With both the Volunteer and the counterpart going through the training together, they learn the same information and techniques for combating malaria as well as learning how to work together.
The first day focused on background information with representatives from the Tanzania National Malaria Control Program and the U.S. Presidentâ€™s Malaria Initiative coming to talk with the groups about what is going on in Tanzania and answering questions regarding policies and different malaria commodities. This year, these facilitators were joined by a Supply Chain Specialist from USAID who was able to shine some light on what had previously been a mystery to Tanzanian Volunteers: how the commodities get to the clinics. The specialist was also able to give some ideas of how PCVs could engage in the supply chain. The day rounded out with teaching about basic malaria science and HIV/AIDS and malaria co-infection issues.
The second day took the foundational knowledge provided the previous day and introduced hands-on activities and sample lessons on how to teach villagers about malaria utilizing methods that were both engaging and educational. The TMT facilitated Grassroot Soccer lessons, malaria games, village lessons and bed net demonstrations emulating how to use these techniques in the village and answering questions along the way. At the end of the day, participants were given time to work with their counterparts and to prepare a lesson combining all the information and skills discussed throughout the training.
The last day centered around implementation. As a final project for their training, all participants went to a local primary school to teach about malaria using the techniques they gained. Myles used his training to create a story book in Swahili that he read to the children during his practical. He also played bed net ball with, a game that teaches children to use their mosquito net. He says his favorite part about the training was â€śthe hands on experience that we got at the primary school. It was nice to be able to practice the techniques and skills that we had learned in training.â€ť He also found that the training gave him a chance to work on building a relationship with his counterpart in order to â€śsee what it will be like to do malaria work with [him].â€ť
At the end of the training, Volunteers worked with their counterparts to create an action plan for future malaria work. Myles plans to tackle malaria in his community through education. He plans to â€śstart with the health center first to educate the workers on proper testing methods and general malaria education.â€ť After that, he will focus on the community through programs at the local primary and secondary school. Myles has already done one Malaria Day Event in his village, and he plans on doing another next year.