Hello! So April is Malaria Awareness Month, so I am here to tell you about malaria in Madagascar (and to earn some points for the highlands region, you are going down sud est!)
First some background and basic facts from the Malaria 101 packet provided by our highlands region malaria coordinator, Miss Kim Connor.
“How it’s transmitted: The pesky little female Anopheles mosquito, which primarily bite at night (dusk till dawn).
Symptoms of malaria: high fever that is cyclical (returning every 48 hours or so), nausea and sometimes vomiting, sweating, chills, fatigue, headache, dizziness, sore joints/muscles, weakness
What to do if symptoms arise: Go immediately to the local doctor! Do not pass go, do not collect $200! They will administer a malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and treat you if you do have malaria.
Prevention methods: Sleeping under mosquito nets (the best are insecticide treated), wearing long sleeves/pants in the evening, going to the doctor as soon as you get a fever, eliminating standing water around the house, closing all doors/windows from dusk till dawn, planting tomatoes and citronella around the house (natural mosquito repellents), taking malaria prophylaxis pills, and using repellant.”
Malaria rates in Madagascar are incredibly high, particularly on the east coast where the heat and humidity are very high. Peace Corps is working on disseminating information about proper prevention and treatment techniques to reduce transmission and death rates. In addition, we are teaching people about how malaria impacts no only their lives but their communities as well. The following is information provided by Kim as well detailing how she calculated the cost of malaria in communities in Madagascar. As an economic development volunteer, I will be trying this approach to encourage people to take proper precautions.
“Recently, my counterpart and I conducted LLIN care and maintenance consultations using Networks-created informational cards. We noticed community members were most engaged while discussing the money that could be saved by reducing the incidence of malaria (i.e., by sleeping under a properly maintained mosquito net). For this reason, I decided to calculate the amount of money spent by my community on malaria consultations and medication in 2011. I met with my the head nurse at my health post and to discuss and document the cost of consultations and routine medication prescribed for simple and severe malaria (including paracetamol), and to break the costs down by age range to closely match the age ranges recorded in the health registry.
I found out that my community spent 3,039,100 MGA on malaria consultations and medication in 2011. This number did not impress the leaders of my village as I had hoped. To visually represent this figure, I decided to present it in a culturally significant manner: using rice sacks. Specifically, one sack of rice in my regional capital costs 15,000 MGA. Calculating for transportation to my village, the amount my community spent on malaria consultations and medication in 2011 equaled 196 sacks of rice. This was an impressive figure considering that one sack of rice feeds approximately one family for one month.
Recently, I set on a journey to buy 196 rice sacks (filled with grass, I don’t have that kind of money) to visually display to my community how much they spend on malaria, which will hopefully motivate them to proactively fight malaria.”
I hope this enlightens you a little bit about the problem here in Madagascar. Thanks for listening while we STOMP OUT MALARIA!