In 2008 we supported the AMREF community-based malaria control project in Mtwara, Tanzania called ‘Pambana Na Malaria’ which means ‘tackling malaria together’. A total of 11,000 mosquito nets were distributed to women and children in Mtwara. Formal health workers have been trained in malaria epidemiology, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, lab techniques, drug procurement and stock management in order to improve the quality of care provided at the health centres. This has increased access to malaria prevention and treatment intervention for women, children, and people living with HIV/AIDS. Community Health Workers in all villages have been trained and provided with kits to raise awareness among their own communities on malaria, its symptoms, and methods of prevention and treatment. This has been complemented by village health days and locally relevant information materials, significantly increasing knowledge and awareness of malaria. The project has also been working with the local government teams to support them in managing their health systems and to ensure the benefits of the project are sustained into the future.
The project’s baseline survey, completed in November 2007 prior to the start of this project, showed that 50% of deaths in children under five were due to malaria – a preventable disease, and that 40% of children with malaria were using pain killers, rather than anti- malarial drugs to treat the disease. With the support of the Chalker Foundation for Africa, AMREF’s project is already making a significant impact to ensure that malaria is prevented and controlled in Mtwara. The project’s evaluation report completed in 2009 showed that in comparison with the baseline survey there had been an increase in awareness and that the under five morbidity due to malaria had dropped from 64% to 49%. The success of ‘Pambana Ma Malaria’ should have long term positive effects on the lives of communities in one of Tanzania’s poorest regions.
“Before the AMREF project the only thing I understood about malaria was that it is dangerous and that many people who catch malaria die of this. I did not know what the symptoms were, or how you catch it or anything like that. My job is to go from house to house to teach people and advise people of when they need to get treatment for malaria. Now more and more people are also coming to find me at my house because they know I have had the training and I am able to help them. What I have learned in my training has helped me to teach my family and even other people in my community about malaria, because of this I have seen the number of people in my village who die of malaria going down.”
” The project has really helped our communities through the education we are getting from CHWs on prevention and treatment of malaria” Being a village chair person of 3,456 people I have seen some changes to our community. The best thing AMREF has done to my family is supply of treated bed nets: my wife was pregnant at distribution time “
– Juma Hassan Mohamed, the village chairman of Namkuku Village (October 08)