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VWA's 2016 Children's Malaria Prevention Programme Delivering Change!

VWA's 2016 Children's Malaria Prevention Programme Delivering Change!

Date Posted: 19/03/2016
Following many months of research, planning and general hard work from our fantastic volunteer-led team, VWA was this month able to move in to the next phase of our Children's Malaria Prevention Programme 2016. Click this story to read more.
Following many months of research, planning and general hard work from our fantastic volunteer-led team, VWA was this month able to move in to the next phase of our Children's Malaria Prevention Programme 2016. Working in the local, traditional fishing community of Oshieye - home to the 70 children and their families who attend the VWA Daycare & Nursery Centre for Vulnerable Children - our team held the first of our 'Community parent education workshops'.

Within the Malaria Prevention Programme, our aim is to combine a number of activities and initiatives that will prevent incidents of malaria in the long term by tackling the problem from a number of different angles. Activities include the provision of high quality malaria prevention education to parents, the distribution of protective mosquito nets and resources to local households, and the incorporation of malaria education and prevention learning activities in to the curriculum for younger children at our Centre.

On a trial basis, we began the programme by focusing on the 30 youngest and most vulnerable children at our centre; comprised largely of the children who were admitted to the centre most recently, in the youngest creche age-range, and therefore who represent the highest risk of malaria-related fatality and who will also not have benefitted from any of VWA?s anti-malaria works or projects in the past. Once this initial trial has been assessed and deemed successful, we aim to roll the programme out to all the children and families VWA works with.

The community education aspect of the program was developed from research conducted on local parents, regarding what they knew about malaria (disease/description, transmission methods, symptoms, testing methods, treatment techniques, and prevention methods etc). Some of the data our team received demonstrates the difficulties in working in under-developed communities in which older generations have received no access to structured education or contemporary healthcare, for example in some cases our research team were told by community members that ?malaria is caused by spirits?. So within our malaria education program for parents, we addressed these views and provided accurate and?to-date medical science, using visual aids and explaining the concepts and facts in easily to digest and understand segments. 

Sadly, everyone in the community of Oshieye will have either lost a family member, or will have had a neighbour or friend who has lost a family member, to malaria. Malaria is therefore an unpleasant, sometimes deadly, but ever-present fact of every day life for this community. So in our first trial workshop, 15 parents of young children, all of whom showed a keen interest in the subject, were invited to participate. Participants were taken through a structured agenda of learning and were also able to ask questions and provided with the opportunity to feedback at the end of the sessions to show they had understood the issues and were better prepared for the future. These sessions were conducted by VWA volunteers who are either highly experienced nurses or who are studying pathology/medicine at degree-level.

In another initiative within the programme, at our Daycare & Nursery Centre, our Kindergarten 2 students, with the help of their teacher, acted out what mosquitoes sound like, how to spot them when they fly, and impersonated them landing and biting people. Introducing this element of fun in to the learning helped the cognitive early-years retention of the information and brought the subject to life for the children. The children acted out possible symptoms of malaria; including fever, chills, headaches, and vomiting, and, learnt a range of educational songs and games to further solidify their understanding of the risks and how they should respond to malaria as safely as possible.

Our team will now begin fundraising for the next phase of this important programme, in which we will require a range of resources such as nets, medicines and treatment kits, to roll out the phase of preventive equipment and resources to local households and expand the educational aspects of our work to a greater number of families. We would welcome all the support we can gain in this area so if you are interested in donating towards this important and high-impact programme, please visit the Donate Page of our website. Malaria can be deadly, especially to the young children VWA cares for on a daily basis, so your support could literally save lives.

And, of course, if you have an interest in medicine, healthcare, pathology or any other discipline relevant to malaria, and you are considering volunteering to share your time and expertise and develop your experience in this important area, please get in touch with a member of our team - at info@volunteerwestafrica.org - who can discuss the unique and exciting volunteering opportunities available in Ghana with the VWA team.

VWA would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the programme to-date, particularly Taylah Bennet (VWA Volunteer), Brooke French (VWA Healthcare Development Officer), and the team at Parter West Africa who have helped both with fundraising for the programme and sustaining our Daycare & Nursery Centre in general.

Thank you. We look forward to many exciting developments in this programme as the year continues.
Author: Volunteer West Africa

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