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Swatting out malaria with grassroots health interventions

In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria worldwide – 200 million alone occurring in Africa. That’s like every single person in Canada contracting malaria 5 separate times in one year. Unfortunately, because of its high risk of infection, people in remote communities across Africa, from Zimbabwe to Liberia, have come to accept suffering from malaria as normal.

But you are helping support grassroots programs that Defy Normal to tackle malaria on the ground and bring help to where it’s needed most. Thank you for your support to squash malaria in its tracks and create a healthy new normal for mothers like Portia and their children in rural Zimbabwe.

A Plan International volunteer demonstrates to a family how to set up their new bed net.
Portia smiles holding her young daughter.


When Portia fell ill from malaria, her whole family suffered. “Malaria is a very painful disease,” she states. “I suffered both physically and emotionally when my 7-year-old daughter couldn’t attend school because she was taking care of her younger sister in my place. I also had to wean my baby though I had planned to breastfeed for two years.”

On her worst days, Portia’s husband stayed home from work to support her, forfeiting their family’s only source of income. This then also creates a vicious cycle where families can no longer afford the costs of medicine – nor make the lengthy journey to clinics some 35 kilometres away.

However, when help and hope seemed out of reach, you helped communities rally together to overcome the odds. Your generous support has helped train over 1,100 community health workers who oversee 3 regions in Zimbabwe, home by home and net by net. The trainings you help fund have equipped these community health workers to:

  • Lead bed net distributions
  • Test and treat for minor malaria symptoms
  • Conduct clinic referrals
  • Encourage the importance of hygiene and sanitation
  • Establish community malaria committees and school clubs

 

Plan International-trained community health workers and midwives.

 

The health worker who treated Portia.

It was one of these health workers that treated Portia – helping bring health and happiness back to her family. Her older daughter could return to school, her husband could return to work and she could tend to her little one – so they too could grow healthy once again – thanks, in part, to you!

“I am on record telling my fellow women, let’s protect ourselves and stand up for our families!” she exclaims.

Thomas, a health worker in Liberia, dutifully works to improve his neighbours’ health and safety. “After treatment, I teach families the importance of sleeping under mosquito nets,” he explains in hopes his malaria prevention and hygiene teachings can help ward off infected mosquitos and welcome healing.

And that they have! Local parents are now more aware of their children’s health and hygiene. “Things are improving. They are following my advice,” he celebrates, grateful to you for helping provide the training and medicine that could protect children from the deadly threat of malaria.

Thomas, a community health worker, treats a young child at their home.

Portia and her husband have taken part in community trainings on malaria prevention and how to use insecticidal bed nets – made possible thanks to you and dedicated health workers like Thomas. Your donations have helped distribute over 3.5 million bed nets to families across Zimbabwe and Liberia!

“I am happy for my health and I want to thank Plan International for the help they are providing us!” cheers 19-year-old Mamie.

Portia is determined to make this deadly disease buzz off forever. Today, Portia’s children have been vaccinated against dangerous viruses at outreach clinics and she is receiving a steady supply of anti-malaria medicine from community health workers – opening access to vital resources and saving her money on transportation and pharmaceuticals. Seeing the benefits of the programs firsthand – and eager to share them with others in need – Portia’s husband is now a member of their community malaria committee and has been instrumental in educating his neighbours on proper bed net use. Today, a different cycle has been initiated and carried out: one where health is the new norm.

Mamie smiles holding her new net.

“I am happy that a lot of people are now correctly and consistently utilizing nets,” says a pleased local health technician. “The number of cases reported for this area has decreased significantly from 27 cases per 1,000 people in 2016 to 12 per 1,000” – effectively cutting the risks in half, with the contributions and collaboration of donors like you.

Thank you for helping protect thousands of people from malaria. With your ever-appreciated support, together, we are soaring leaps and bounds to gain new ground in eradicating this disease, saving lives and helping ensure every child has the chance to unleash their true potential.

Mercy happily hugs her new bet net.


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