The National, Wednesday 03rd April 2013
POPULATION Services International has embarked on a community initiative through its malaria home-based management programme to reduce the burden of malaria beginning in East Sepik.
In partnership with Save The Children and the health department, PSI recruits and trains volunteers to become community-based distributors (CBDs) for malaria testing, diagnosis and treatment in areas that lack health services.
East Sepik is the first province that PSI has implemented the programme in and has extended it to East New Britain in which the Burnette Institute has conducted training for the volunteers.
According to PSI, the sites chosen in the provinces are based on the high prevalence rates of malaria and lack of access to health services.
“We are using CBDs as volunteers to promote healthy behaviours and to encourage people to use long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets,” director programming Fikre Estifanos told The National.
He added that the programme addressed the needs of people who lacked health services.
Malaria programme manager Elijah John said people saw the CBDs as resource persons for malaria.
He said with the use of CBDs in group meetings as part of PSI’s interpersonal communication strategy in promoting behaviour change, people began to understand how malaria was transmitted, the signs and symptoms and the treatment required for it.
“Most people thought malaria came from contaminated areas, rubbish and even the weather but after the IPC sessions they understood,” he said.
Maria Albert, a CBD in the Aupik area of Maprik, East Sepik, told The National that serving the community had earned her a lot of respect from the people.
She said it was an enormous task but she had the knowledge of conducting tests on people suspected of having malaria, diagnosing and treating them if tested positive.
Malaria continues to be a major public health problem in the country affecting almost 90% of the population.