Friday, May 4, 2012

World Malaria Day

April 25th, 2012 was World Malaria Day (WMD). According to WHO 655,000 deaths in 2010 were a result of malaria. A majority of those deaths were children. A more updated statistic is that over 700, 000 deaths are caused by malaria every year. 90% of those deaths were children who never reached their 5th birthday. In my host country Ghana, 1 in 15 children will be in that 90%. SWAT Malaria (Standing with Africa to Terminate Malaria), a Peace Corps Committee, had the goal to hold events in every region of Ghana for WMD. We had less than two weeks to organize and implement our activity.

Being in the village I couldn’t do much besides calling people to setup the venue, schedule and organize volunteers.  Jugaba immediately asked if he could come to the WMD event. I told him that I am finally going to be on the radio. I could see the excitement in his eyes. The way this boy loves music, how could I say no? I call him my Jukebox because he is always singing. When I explained to him what it was he said he would like to buy a Jukebox so he could listen to music and save his money inside. Yes Jugaba, the musical bank!

Jugaba and I before we go on the air.
When we finally got into the studio he was quiet and was only responding to our questions with a smile and a giggle.  We made him sit next to me close to the microphones.  After PCV Rachel and I finished our talk about malaria and promoted the event, the DJ at Radio Progress, Robert, began talking to Jugaba in Waale.  He was so taken aback that he was going to be on the radio that he paused and greeted, “Ansoma” too far away from the microphone for anyone to here. After some encouragement from all the PCVs in the room, Jugaba gained his voice and answered all the questions from Robert. What a memorable day for him.

Later that day we organized at the basketball courts outside the Ministries in Wa. We had a tent, speakers and DJ and a bed net to hang up. The bed net was the most difficult to assemble do to the strong wind blowing across the court. At around 3:45pm is when the music stopped and the education began. All the PCVs there were amazing and took part in different activities. Our main audience was a bunch of boys who lured in by all the nansalas (white people) playing basketball and dancing. The net never blew away, but had a couple close calls.
Demonstrating how to hang your LLIN outside.

Our translator educating about the myths of malaria.

Coach giving us a pep talk before the game.
After the education the Wa Unicorns (Yes this is a serious name of a basketball team composed of jacked tall African men) came because we challenged them in a game.  We had enough players to sub-in every couple of minutes. We were not used to this kind of physical activity.  Although they went easy on us, they beat us by only 6 points. We all had such a great time that we could be making the game an annual event. It is no wonder the Upper West Region has some of the closest friendships between volunteers; we love to get together and create something big.

Rainy season is beginning again. Which means that malaria cases will soon be increasing. Some new preventative measures Jeyiri has to protect themselves is long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) and the community has be selected for Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS).  With the proper use of the nets combined with IRS in every house, Jeyiri should have a reduced malaria infection rate in humans and mosquito. A decreasing infection rate could cause for the eradication of the malaria sporozoan parasite in the female anopheles mosquito, thus eradicating malaria.  Between 1955 and 1978 most developed countries including America eradicated malaria, what is holding back Ghana? We have the tools and the knowledge, now is the time for the change.
Jeyiri woman proud to show me her new life saving LLIN.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?