5 April 2012
Agness Namoya, from Malawi, is married with five children. In 2004, her household received a mosquito net, but it wore out a few years later. After that, no one in the family was sleeping under a net. Without this protection from mosquito bites, her first three children contracted malaria and suffered convulsions.
In 2010, Angess received a new mosquito net and education on the importance of its use through Concern Universal’s President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)-funded Malaria Communities Program in Phalombe District, in the Southern region of Malawi. Concern Universal has been implementing the Phalombe District Malaria Communities project since 2008. With a goal of reducing malaria illness and death by 50%, the project aims to:
MCHIP's Private Voluntary Organization/Nongovernmental Organization (PVO/NGO) Support Team provides technical assistance in program design, monitoring, implementation, and evaluation to grantees supported through the President's Malaria Initiative's Malaria Communities Program. Concern Universal works in partnership with district stakeholders and is building the capacity of new and existing community structures such as Village Health Committees (VHCs). Each of the 460 villages in the project area has a VHC whose members have been trained in basic malaria information by the project. They conduct community awareness on malaria through home visits, net demonstrations, and Theatre for Development.
Agness Namoya is one such person who has benefited from the work of the VHCs. Thanks to the Sakweda VHC, Agness has adopted healthy behaviors for her and her family. She washes her mosquito nets once a year and has managed to mend one of the nets that had holes. In addition, Agness now has two mosquito nets; the one she received through the project – still in good condition – and one that she purchased from a local shop after understanding the importance of sleeping under a mosquito net every night. She explained that her children are no longer suffering from malaria, and this has reduced the need for her to visit the nearest health facility so often to seek treatment. As a result, the family is able to utilize this time for other household activities.
The Sakweda VHC is proud of its contributions toward the reduction of malaria cases and deaths. In 2011, the VHC referred 18 of 30 pregnant women in the area for antenatal care. In an effort to dispell myths and misconceptions on net usage, the village has been reached with various information, education and communication messages through health talks in clinics and churches, community meetings, and peer education.
Realizing the benefits of these important malaria interventions and health practices, Angess has become one of the more active community members, and is now at the forefront of educating other community members on the importance of mosquito net usage. She has even composed songs as a means to communicate the important messages on malaria prevention and treatment to save lives.