In a series of films released for World Malaria Day (April 25), we are sharing inspiring stories from a community in western Tanzania which is making huge progress in the fight against the disease.
Malaria is a major public health concern in Tanzania, with children under five and pregnant women most at risk. Two years ago, mums, midwives and community leaders in Kigoma all told us that a lack of knowledge and education about malaria meant it was a huge blight on their community, with many failing to seek help for symptoms, not trusting test results, or stopping taking malaria drugs when they started to feel better without completing the dose.
But now, two years later, we’ve been finding out first-hand how thanks to Tanzania Communication and Development Centre (TCDC) – a project funded by Comic Relief and GSK – they have been equipped with important skills to tackle malaria by sleeping under bednets to avoid getting bitten, seeking treatment early when they show signs of fever, trusting test results and taking prescribed medication.
Tabu says that thanks to the support and education she has received, she no longer feels that malaria is ruling over her community - just one member of her family has had the disease in the last year.
Mkola says that she now understands the symptoms of malaria much better and if someone in her family is feeling unwell they go to the hospital to be properly diagnosed.
Jacob says that malaria cases have decreased from 38.1% prevalence, to 24.4% prevalence over the last two years– with more people realising the importance of being tested before taking treatment, and sleeping under bed nets.
Leonadi, says he has seen huge progress in malaria education within his community – with many people now taking their prescribed medication, instead of using traditional herbs
Some amazing progress has been made since the project began in November 2016: it has reached over 300,000 people in 1000 villages Kigoma and Geita; 340 community health workers have received training on delivering behaviour change malaria messages to the community; and more than 18,000 pregnant women and mothers are now attending antenatal care where they receive treatment to prevent malaria and, crucially, are able to recognise the signs of symptoms of malaria in young children.
But although fewer people are getting malaria and the community is winning the fight, there is still a long way to go. Globally, a child still dies from the disease every two minutes. Comic Relief and GSK are determined to continue the fight against malaria, building on the progress already made, to help prevent more lives being needlessly lost to malaria.