Weekly Awesome Burkina Faso: Promoting Good Health Practices to a Low-Literate Audience
Since April 2012, PCV Clarissa has focused much of her work on researching mosquito net use in her community and educating the population about proper net use. Her village suffers from a low literacy rate. In order to overcome this obstacle, Clarissa created visual aids to be used as a survey tool. She constructed two boxes: one box with a picture of somebody sleeping under a mosquito net and one box with a picture of somebody sleeping without a mosquito net. Clarissa asks women to place a stone in either box depending on how they slept the night before. Then, Clarissa and her counterpart discuss malaria transmission, prevention techniques, and treatment strategies.
U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers and partners distributed over 550 mosquito nets to six villages at the Chikakala Rural Health Center Catchment, Mpika district, on Saturday, July 7th, 2012. Health Peace Corps Volunteer, Barbara Smith, with Mrs. Maureen Mwape of the Rural Health Center and Mr. Patrick Mwape an Environmental Health Technician with the clinic hosted the event. This project was funded by a Small Project Assistance (SPA) grant, a project of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). PCV Barbara Smith collaborated with the Zambia Stomp Malaria Team and Vestergaard Frandsen to purchase 700 discounted nets.
The idea was simple: to get a village to see how much money they spend treating malaria every year so that they would be motivated to sleep under their mosquito nets and prevent the disease in the first place. How did Senegal Peace Corps Volunteer Ben Gascoigne illustrate this statistic? By speaking to people’s stomachs: he lined the road from the village mosque to the health post with 196 sacks of rice - the number of sacks the village could have purchased with the money they instead spent on treating malaria. The display was a huge success - people finally took notice and Ben’s net care and repair demonstrations were a huge hit.
I’m starting to work on a Bed Net Distribution and Installation Campaign. My plan is have trainings/demonstrations to heads of households in the rural areas we visit on how to install the nets, then give them a net and check-sheet of how to do it and send them on their way. A week or so later we pop back in to inspect how it went. This plan is a bit stalled right now as we’re waiting for the seasonal shipment of nets to come in for distribution.
Until new nets are available, I have been working in the rural areas with a local Health Extension Worker on installations of preexisting nets. This means sewing up holes, attempting to reinstall crazily hung nets, and just trying to keep my chin up.
Peace Corps volunteers serve in some of the most remote areas of the world, working at the grassroots level to prevent malaria by distributing bed nets and finding innovative ways to educate communities.