Botswana Weekly Awesome: How do you eat an elephant?

Why, piece by piece of course. The idea of creating an accurate and detailed map can be overwhelming. The necessity of capturing each and every building, house, shop, road, school, footpath seems like an elephant of a task. But maps are important; they are a visual representation of our world, which allows us to see it clearly which in turn assists in analyzing and understanding our surroundings. In fact, community mapping is one of the PACA (Participatory Analysis for Community Action) tools Peace Corps recommends in getting to know the site we have been assigned. When I first arrived my site, a small village located in Chobe Forest Reserve an enclave within the greater Chobe National Park (nicknamed “Land of the Giants” for its’ large elephant population) without really realizing it I was constantly drawing maps.

I had girls at the local Junior Secondary School draw maps and realized that the one thing all their maps had in common was the football field and the school. Together we discussed where they spent the majority of their time and whether or not they felt that these spaces were safe and welcoming.

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After follow-up visits with TB patients and home based care clients, the Health Education Assistants had me help them draw a map of the village to keep track of these patients. When a representative from Thuso Rehabilitation Centre visited the village, they pulled out a map that was so confusing and distorted that we had to draw a new one to direct them to patients. But, at best, the maps we created were the roughest sketches of the reality on the ground and lacked impartiality.

Then, in February I had the privilege to attend the Stomp Out Malaria Boot Camp and learned about OpenStreetMap.org; an open source website that crowd-sources community mapping, it’s the perfect intersection of technology and PACA tool. I was enthralled. When I got back to Botswana, with a million things on my plate, I tucked the mapping technology into the back of my mind.

Life moved along, and I was invited to represent the Peace Corps at the National Malaria Conference. We heard from experts from the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, and Roll Back Malaria and one of the messages that was repeated by all these organizations was that mapping was the way forward. That in a country, such as Botswana targeted strategic interventions are vital and that maps can provide this information. Then we heard from people at the national, district and community levels and they chimed back about the lack of capacity and tools that they had for mapping.

I remembered Open Street Map. It was the perfect solution. And after talking with my community counterparts and showing them the tool, they were just as excited as I was about its possibilities. I made a video asking friends and family back home to support our mapping efforts with their powerful Internet. And with support from the Peace Corps Office of Innovation; maps, beautiful detailed maps started to come to life. My community and I marveled as we watched the map develop and then added our own local knowledge. I taught people how to name government buildings, schools, how to mark shops and bars and most excitingly was able to show them their own houses and yards on the map.

Before: Map made at Clinic to track patients

Before: Map made at Clinic to track patients

After: Open Street Map

After: Open Street Map

We have a way to go before all the villages in the district are mapped (in fact we’re working on mapping Satau now http://tasks.hotosm.org/project/712 and could still use your help). We are only starting to play with all the possibilities the map offers. But today, the Village Development Committee and I hung up the map on their wall, I have a meeting tomorrow with the Kgosi (chief) about the map, and the day after tomorrow I have a meeting with the Environmental Education Officer about how we can use the maps in an upcoming Indoor Residual Spraying Campaign. And the potential cascades from there.

Here, in the Land of the Giants, we know that elephant meat is “very nice and tastes like Zebra” and that to solve any problem we all have to work together and “eat it” piece by piece or in this case house by house. And for everyone back home who has taken a bite, we thank you. Re a leboga.

Posted in Botswana, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Botswana Weekly Awesome: Stomp it Out Music Video Pt 2 – PCV Chad’s Wish

By Chad Anderson

PCV Chad Anderson worked with local artists to create this vibrant, and catchy malaria music video. Below he writes about his experiences; from learning about malaria, to his transition from Mali to Botswana, and finally the process of creating the music video. Chad, closed-out his service, but his music video continues to inspire us to sing, dance and stomp out malaria.

Before I arrived in Mali, West Africa, as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) I knew next to nothing about malaria. Malaria? That’s some exotic disease that other people on other continents get; something that I might hear about, and remember only vaguely, from a church campaign or fundraiser. Nothing that had anything to do with me or people I knew.

That soon changed after I moved to my site in Mali and I attended my first local funeral and learned that the person had died of malaria. I didn’t know people were still dying from malaria. Especially since the Peace Corps had supplied me and my fellow volunteers with nets and mosquito repellants. Very soon after I learned of another death from malaria, this time the young man was around my own age. It hit me really hard. I couldn’t stop thinking about the unfairness of it all: Here I am taking pills that will help prevent malaria, but the people in my village didn’t have anything—medicine or nets. The realization almost made me depressed and hurt my heart, especially when I realized that every time I went to the local clinic where I was volunteering, someone one was being treated for malaria. I think a turning point for me was when a child of one of the nurses got sick with malaria. Although he pulled through, I had many sleepless nights worrying about him. And the others. It was almost as if a decision had been made for me: Nothing was more important than working on malaria projects.

I started thinking and talking to others about possible projects that I could do focused on malaria. But suddenly my time in Mali was cut short by a government coup. Peace Corps evacuated us, but luckily I was accepted as a PCV in Botswana. I learned that HIV/AIDS, not malaria, was the focus on Peace Corps efforts in Botswana (which still has the second highest infection rate in the world). I was happy to still be a PCV, but saddened at leaving my malaria projects behind.

But soon after being placed in a small village in northern Botswana, I learned that my village, as well as many other areas in the country, were still considered high risk for malaria. My passion to do something to reduce the impact of malaria was rekindled. I often sat at the local clinic, meeting staff and patients, asking questions, and wondering how I might help. And then, in a quiet moment, I remembered! In Mali, I had heard local artists on the radio one night, reminding people to use their nets. Why not here in Botswana? Why not work with local artists here to design an educational video that both entertains and educates people? Why not?

I reached out to a local artist I had met and he thought the idea was great. It also fit for him because he wanted to give something back to not only Botswana but to all of Africa.

We threw around different ideas: maybe a parody on a popular song but with the lyrics changed to focus on malaria education? Maybe an original song? A few months after our initial conversation we met and the artist said he’d talked to friends and colleagues in the studio and they wanted to make their own beats. So they got started! I supplied some statistics that could be incorporated in the lyrics (originally written with fellow PCV and Stomp Coordinator Jessica Hall). In one week, the song was written.

But now, it was to be more than a song; we were going to write and produce a music video! I really wanted the video shot in my village because so many members of community had been in my classes where I talked about malaria. People were very interested; this was particularly gratifying to me because these are the people who are affected by malaria. They wanted to be a part of the video. My passion became their passion, just as their needs had become the focal point of all my volunteer work.

People got involved and we shot the video, and then a documentary about making the video, but focusing on what people had learned about malaria and what they wanted others in Africa to know about it.

Our goal was to showcase it at the first- ever All Volunteer Conference (February 2014) where Peace Corps was celebrating 10 years in Botswana. Not only did I and everyone involved in this receive warm and outstanding support from other PCVs, but the National Malaria Coordinator Mma Mosweunyane also attended, and spoke warmly about the video and documentary. She now wants the video shown on television in Botswana.

This project has been a dream come true. It has taken time, patience, and many hours of work not just from me, but from all involved. This work will always have a special place in my heart because of all the people I’ve met who died from malaria. I was hit especially hard the night of the premier showing for Peace Corps when I learned that my host family in Mali had lost a son—my host brother—from malaria. My heart felt truly broken, almost as if I had let him down.

My wish for this video is very simple: I want it to help educate people; I want malaria to be prevented and eradicated. I want no one else in Africa or anywhere to die from malaria.

Posted in Botswana, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , , , ,

Botswana Weekly Awesome: Interview with the artists behind the “Stomp Out Malaria” music video!

On the night of Tuesday February 18, 2014, the “World Premiere” of the “Stomp Out Malaria” music video took place at Phakalane Golf Estate in Gaborone, Botswana, and ended with two rounds of standing ovation and loud cheering all around. The song and music video project was led by Peace Corps Botswana’s superstar volunteer, Chad Anderson, and was produced by a group of local talented and passionate Batswana. Five Hip Hop artists (Sentence, the Khoisan, Motswaki Vic, DoughBoy, and BlaqBoy) from Fancy Path Music Group (FMPG) wrote and featured themselves in the song, while the music video was produced under Otlaadisa Productions.

Theresa and I were able to track down Sentence (FMPG) and Ottis (Otlaadisa Productions) for a brief interview to learn more about their side of the story in hopes of presenting a broader picture and understanding of how things came to be. Hearing about their passion and motivation behind the project left both of us doe-y eyed, and, in turn, even more psyched about “Stomp Out Malaria”. We think you guys will be too.

Kim:   How did you guys become involved in the project with Chad?

Sentence: I met Chad last year. [Chad] is a close friend of my girlfriend, Amelia, who’s a Bots 10. She told me that he was working on a project that involves malaria and wants to record a song. The song [he] wanted to make [originally] was just a cover song of another artist.

So we set up a meeting, and I told him that I wouldn’t mind doing it for him, but I’m working with my group, Fancy Path Music Group, so I had to ask them if they wouldn’t mind doing such. [When] I spoke to the rest of the team, they said yes.

This year, he came to my house and he told me that he only had a few months before he leaves, but he wanted to do this before he goes. So [Chad and I] got into the studio with the team and started working on it.

Ottis: The whole idea was to make something, because a campaign is good, but to make it stronger it needs powerful visuals. So when Chad approached me about making a music video, I started to ask questions about his experience with video production. He said he downloaded software from the Internet, [which I recognized as a low quality tool.] I realized that Chad doesn’t have much experience with video production and that there was an opportunity for me to assist him. That I could show him something that he could do. Because he was helping us [as a Peace Corps volunteer], I wanted to help him and show him what we can do here.

K:   You guys produced everything, the song and the music video, in two weeks. That’s a very short amount of time.

S:    Yeah. To write a song about my life, that would take a few minutes. But to write a song about something like malaria – I didn’t even know much about malaria – so it wasn’t easy, you know. [Chad wrote out a first draft on what he wanted in the song, and then we took it from there.] It took a week to compile the song and it took us another week to work on the video.

K:   Since you didn’t have much prior experience with malaria, did you find this project with Chad a learning experience? How much did you learn about malaria in the process?

S:  I learned a lot from this project. For example, I thought that any mosquito could cause malaria. But, no, there’s a certain species of mosquito, the species Anopheles. I didn’t know about statistics [either]. Like, they say that one in ten are affected, and 3000 kids die daily in Africa of malaria. I learned a lot.

K:   What about you, Ottis? Do you have any personal connections to malaria?

O:  I do have a personal connection with malaria. In 1995/1996, my younger brother and I arrived in Maun [a town located in northwestern Botswana] and we were attacked by malaria. It was bad, but, luckily, we managed to survive.

K:   Despite your first hand experience with malaria, do you feel like you have learned more about malaria after working on this project with Chad?

O:  I have, I have. I think this had made me more alert, more aware. It has refreshed me about malaria.

K:   Everything came out of your own pockets, like all of the artists’ own pockets. You guys pretty much were working for free and contributed 100 percent. Can you tell me a little more about what motivated you to do so? Not every artist is willing to commit to something like this.

O:  So, from [my] childhood experience, I knew how dangerous malaria is, and I wanted to spread the message visually and on an international level. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass, you know, to help other kids out there, to warn them about the dangers of malaria. Just that [my desire to reach kids] inspired me to do this video for charity.

S:  Sometimes, as artists, we need to give back to the community. That’s at least what the [philosophy] at FPMG is like. Normally we sing about, like, dancing at the club, blah blah blah, something like that. [Laughs.] But, hey, rap music [could also be] very informational. It’s very easy to give information to youths through music. So we [at FPMG] decided, okay, let’s do this. Maybe we should be informative and talk to the younger generation. Let’s pass the message through our music.

K:   What was your favorite moment in the process of this music video production?

O:  Oh, the kids. The kids at the primary and the junior school. They were very cooperative and very excited to do this video. Some of the kids at the junior secondary school were a little bit hard to control [Laughs], but they were fun. Plus, the reception that the video got at Phakalane that was one of the highlights. The Peace Corps volunteers really made our day there.

K:   What are some hopes you have for the song and the music video? Do you have any personal vision or ambition for this song and music video in particular?

S:   From us at FPMG, we are artists, so we want to be able to submit this song and music video on our own to local radio stations and to television stations. To anywhere would be cool. To [submit] the song to most radio stations across Africa, that would be something.

K:   It’s a great song. I’m sure that it’s going to picked up, and I can’t wait to hear it on the radio.

S:   It is a great song. I hope everyone likes it. I hope that they don’t just listen to it, but also listen to what it says.

O:   You know, the vision I have for this video is for it to be played on every television station in Africa. If it was able to achieve this I would say thank you to Chad in a big, big way. I want this video to play all over, all over Africa. I want the skills of the artists in Botswana to be shared and recognized and hopefully to inspire future artistic creations. I want the video to assist Chad and the Peace Corps on spreading the vision of a world free of malaria.

I want parents to be aware of the dangers they can pose on their kids because of neglect. I want the video to refresh them, because it refreshed me. To refresh the parents, the guardians out there about malaria, about the dangers of malaria, and what it can do. You know, we take malaria lightly, but it’s very dangerous, so I hope the video refreshes the African community out there.

K:   So in conclusion, if there were one thing you would like the people of Botswana to know about malaria, what would it be?

S:   To urge people to use precaution. To use mosquito nets and mosquito repellants, [as well as to allow for] indoor residual spraying. Apparently, some of the residents here won’t allow people to come in and spray, [even] in places that are up in the north [where malaria is an issue].

O:   That it is preventable. There are certain steps people can take to prevent malaria. You have to use a mosquito net, because mosquito nets they are everything and they are cheap, and they can save lives. What is more valuable: the life of a young one or the money used to buy a net? Say, maybe a net is a hundred bucks (BWP100) but the life of a person is worth more. Malaria is preventable, that is what I want people to know. And that they can take measures to prevent it and save lives.

If you haven’t seen the Stomp out Malaria music video, watch it HERE.

Sentence (real name Kabelo) is one of the five artists under FPMG, a Hip Hop/Motswako group formed in 2012. They are set to release an album called, Art of War, and some of their current singles include “Old Skool Jushi” and “Becha”. To hear some of their sounds, their free online mix tapes could be accessed at <http://www.reverbnation.com/FPMG>.

Otlaadisa Ottis Otlaadisa was the managing producer of the “Stomp Out Malaria” music video. He is also the CEO of Otlaadisa Productions.

Posted in Botswana, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Botswana Weekly Awesome: Stomp it Out Music Video Pt 1: What will you do today, for tomorrow?

If you look closely at a map of Botswana, you will find the village of Maitengwe nestled up against the Zimbabwean border. Here, local Motswana artists working with PCV Chad Anderson, came together to do their part in ending malaria in Botswana. In the nexus of talent and passion, this catchy and informative music video was born.

In order to increase the efficacy of this music video as a health education tool, the Botswana Stomp Team has created an accompanying Discussion Guide that anyone can use to highlight the important points of the music video. We have also made the lyrics, which contain a multitude of facts available here. (Available via dropbox.)

In addition, the Stomp Team is working with the National Malaria Programme to have the video aired across the country on Botswana Television (BTV) and on local radio stations. Hopefully, during the up-coming rainy malaria season (October-April) this captivating tune will be heard across Botswana and moving people to take personal action to prevent malaria in their households, communities and country.

As the video asks “what will you do today, for tomorrow?”

Check back tomorrow for interviews with the artists and to read PCV Chad Anderson’s personal account on how this music video came to be.

Posted in Botswana, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , ,

Big Books, Big Fun!

By PCV Roberta Connors

Rwandan students use Big Books to learn about malaria prevention.

Rwandan students use Big Books to learn about malaria prevention.

After returning from Stomp Boot Camp X in June, I was inspired to do a project that was taught to us by Peace Corps Uganda.  “Big Books” are teaching aids made out of rice sacks. The best part about them is that you can make any topic into a big book!  I decided to start out by making the “Beware of Mrs. Mosquito” book that was available to me on the Stomp Google Drive.  I followed the template and made my book in a few hours.  It was actually really fun because my husband was at a meeting so I had the afternoon to myself.

The first day I used the book at school was really great.  I had the book next to my stuff in the teacher’s room and whenever teachers saw it they became curious and asked about it.  Once I explained what it was, they were amazed that I was so creative and asked about how they could make some too.  One thing I have learned over the past year is that kids also love when I use teaching aids.  I use magazines, comic books, and music with my lessons on a regular basis. When I brought the book to class they were very interested and excited.  I created some reading comprehension questions to go with the book as well as some new vocabulary words for their notebooks.  We read the book as a class, each kid reading a sentence out loud and afterward discussed the comprehension questions as a class.

Big Books not only teach students about malaria, they encourage student creativity, too!

Big Books not only teach students about malaria, they encourage student creativity, too!

My lesson was more of a reading lesson with a malaria message than anything else but some great things came out of it! Because my kids know I am on Stomp, they always come to me when they have a malaria related question or concern.  Beyond that, some of my younger students were inspired to create storybooks of their own in English.  What can I say, my kids are fabulous!

Next year I am hoping to start the Connors Comic Book Competition where students can submit a comic book they have written in English and compete against their peers.  Maybe when I judge, I can tell them they get a few extra points if their comic book is malaria themed.  If it all works out, I want the prize for the competition to be money for paying their school fees for the next term.

I would also love to get my book translated into the local language so I can read it to the primary students at my school.  I know that they would really get a kick out of it. Overall, the Big Book project is quick, easy, and fun!  Kids and adults alike are interested and it can be used in many different types of lessons.  So go buy some rice sacks and make your own Big Book today!!

Posted in Rwanda Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Togo Weekly Awesome: Small Scale Net Distribution

Even though a mass net distribution happened months before, when I came to Kaniamboua two years ago many families in my community didn’t have bed nets or didn’t have enough bed nets to cover all the sleeping spaces in their household. Bed nets were difficult to find, they were mostly in the capital and much too expensive for the average family in my community. I wanted to do something so I began talking to some friends who connected me to the Malaria Defense Project – Nets in Action.

PCV Katherine Racy with children from the orphanage selected to receive bed nets.

Nets for Action fundraised for months to bring nets to Togo, we found a pharmacy in Lomé that was able to get the 550 bed nets to country. By the time we got the systems and nets in place Togo was planning another national bed net distribution which would fill in the gaps I previously observed in my community but, the national distribution only looked at residential households and not at clinics, orphanages, prisons, or schools. So I decided  to switch my project and focus on distributing nets in Centrale region clinics that don’t have bed nets in their maternity wards and in orphanages. The new plan to distribute the nets at clinics and orphanages would help protect high-risk groups: children under 5 and pregnant women.

 

Unprotected sleeping spaces at the orphanage before they received the nets.

This past weekend I visited my first orphanage. The orphanage has about 20 children and maybe another 15 care takers (mamans) and nuns that live there. I had the pleasure of giving them 40 bed nets so that they can cover all of their beds and have a few extra for when new children arrive. Along with the bed nets, I was able to donate toothbrushes supplied by a family friend and 2 soccer balls that were remaining from another volunteer’s malaria project. The children were so excited to receive these gifts. I was able to talk to the older children (which were not many) about the importance of sleeping under the net every night and what causes malaria. Then in local language they told all the little ones that every night they have to sleep under the bed net even if it is really hot.

Children with their new bed nets.

The mamans and the nun opening up bed net so they can air out before hanging them up.

The mamans and the nun opening up bed net so they can air out before hanging them up.

Looking at the past 2 years this has been the most rewarding project and I look forward to visiting other orphanages and clinics during my 3rd year to finish passing out the rest of the bed nets. For more information on Malaria Defense Project- Nets in Action you can visit them on  Facebook or at http://www.malariadefenseproject.org/ . Their next net distribution which will be held sometime in the Spring 2015, they will be teaming up with Peace Corps Ghana’s SWAT Malaria Team to deliver nets in Ghana.

written by: Katherine Racy, PCV

Posted in Togo, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , ,

Togo Weekly Awesome: Country Wide Bed Net Distribution

Togo had a country wide bed net distribution in August and September to achieve 100% bed net coverage, defined as 1 net per 2 people in a household. About 25 Peace Corps volunteers participated in the distribution by attending and contributing suggestions at community health agent meetings/trainings, going on house visits with community health agents to distribute coupons that community members redeemed for nets and passing out bed nets the day of the distribution.

PCV Mokube Ewane counting empty bed net bags.

PCV Mokube Ewane counting empty bed net bags.

Community members lining up waiting to receive their bed nets in Nandjita

Community members lining up waiting to receive their bed nets in Nandjita

Community health workers of Atchankpade writing down names and number of nets for their records.

Community health workers of Atchankpade writing down names and number of nets for their records.

The community members of Atchankpade  waiting in line to receive their nets.

The community members of Atchankpade waiting in line to receive their nets.

PVC Elizabeth Gomes with community health workers.

PVC Elizabeth Gomes with community health workers.

Posted in Togo, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , ,

Togo Weekly Awesome: What Can You Use Empty Cans For?

Last month PCV Chelsea Clarke put some empty tin cans to good use. Chelsea lives in a small village in northern Togo. Though she is an environmental volunteer, she knows that malaria affects EVERYBODY and she wanted to do something about it.

PCV Chelsea Clarke and her host sister.

PCV Chelsea Clarke and her host sister.

Chelsea got the idea for making portable mosquito net hanging posts while watching babies and toddlers in her host family sleep outside every evening during the prime hours of mosquito activity. Many Togolese families stay outside during the night to cook, socialize, and even sleep outside during hot weather. Additionally, she had heard people in village complain that it was hard to hang the nets when they don’t have a bed or bedposts; many villagers sleep on a mat on the floor.

She made a solution to these problems by anchoring one branch each in 4 tin cans, holding them in place with layers of rocks and sand (clay or cement are more solid but were harder to find.) This is an easy project, and it doesn’t cost a thing!

On the first try, she used empty powdered milk cans, but they were not sturdy enough. Next, she went into town and stopped at various cafeterias, asking for some of the economy-sized tomato cans that many eateries throw out every day. The mamma at her favorite fufu place readily gave her 8 giant tomato cans for free!

Back in village, she enlisted the help of her host family. Together, they put the initial small tin cans inside of the larger tomato cans, and filled up both with a stone and clay mixture. She kicked the cans to see if they would be sturdy enough to withstand the kids playing around the net and scurrying in and out of it.

Chelsea's host siblings making the posts. It is so easy that children can do it!

Chelsea’s host siblings making the posts. It is so easy that children can do it!

While they were making the bed net hanging posts, there was a group of neighbors next door enjoying some tchakpa, a local beer in northern Togo. The group all looked on while the kids cut branches and collected stones, and adults held the poles up and tied the net on at the end.

Chelsea said that there is one woman in her host family who speaks both French and Moba, and she translated to the curious onlookers to explain what was going on. When the women understood, they got very excited, and started calling over their friends and enthusiastically shaking Chelsea’s hand. She hopes that it will be the next big trend in village.

The family trying out the net.

The family trying out the net.

Options if you do not have 1 sturdy can for each post:

  1. Ask a mason if they can make a brick with a stick in the middle
  2. Dig holes in the ground for the sticks

Tips on collecting cans:

  1. Ask kids help you scavenge around for discarded cans
  2. Ask a cafeteria/restaurant
  3. Encourage people in village to collect their own cans, too!
When one tin can is not enough just double up and it will be sturdy enough

When one tin can is not enough just double up and it will be sturdy enough

 

Written by Chelsea Clarke & Katherine Racy

Posted in Togo, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

PMI and Peace Corps Collaboration in Malawi

PCV Dan Marthey with study nurses Losta Moyo and Vera Hara, and study clinician from Karonga District Hospital, Bright Zgambo.

I’m Dan Marthey and I’m a Peace Corps volunteer in the health sector posted in the Karonga district of northern Malawi. I arrived in Malawi in March, 2013. The following September I attended Stomping-Out Malaria in Africa “Boot-Camp” in Thies, Senegal. From that point my work as a volunteer has been mostly malaria focused at my site and assisting with Peace Corps programming throughout the country.

Most of our work concerns behavior change communication in the villages, however, I recently had the opportunity to take part in assisting to conduct a therapeutic efficacy trial in collaboration with Center Disease Control (CDC), National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and Malaria Alert Centre (MAC). This therapeutic efficacy study is a two-arm randomized clinical trial testing first-line treatment, artemether-lumefantrine (AL), and second-line, co-formulated artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ), for the treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in children between the ages of 6-59 months. The outcome of this trial will also assist Ministry of Health (MoH) and NMCP in their guidelines for treatment of uncomplicated malaria and is recommended by World Health Organization to track/measure resistance of P. falciparum, the dominant Plasmodium species in Malawi.

Dan jokes around with two of his coworkers.

Dan jokes around with two of his coworkers.

During the data collection phase of the study I was  the Site Coordinator for Karonga, one of the three study sites, the others sites were Nkhotakota and Machinga district hospitals. My main duties as Site Coordinator was to participate in the initial staff training, maintain enrollment records, maintain observance of standard operating procedures for enrollment and follow-up, maintain thorough patient files, report weekly progress to the study coordinator and principle investigators, adhere to our timeline for patient enrollment, ensure other procedures were followed by study staff and to keep open communication between the study coordinator, investigation team, and Karonga staff to prevent other unforeseen issues from arising.

Bright and Jonathan

Bright and Jonathan

Working closely with the investigation team has been such an outstanding experience. The level of support I have received throughout the process has been incredible thanks to principle investigator Magdalena Paczkowski (CDC), co- investigator/study coordinator Dyson Mwandama (MAC), the PMI Malawi Team, co-investigator Julie Gutman (CDC) and other supporting team members. I’ve had the opportunity to discuss Peace Corps and PMI collaboration in depth with the PMI Malawi Team on a few occasions and it’s clear that PMI is a strong advocate for that relationship. The PMI Malawi Team was also a strong initial supporter of my involvement with this study. This has been an incredible learning experience for me but it has also been a great foundation for what will hopefully become an even stronger relationship between Peace Corps and PMI.

Posted in Malawi Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Help Me Map My Village!

The hot season is starting here in Botswana bringing with it brutal 100 degrees and up heat and a lot of mosquitoes.  This season we are gearing up our efforts to prevent malaria across the country.

Botswana is lucky to be in the elimination phase, we have a lower number of symptomatic cases of malaria and malaria related deaths and a greater need for surveillance and case management in hopes of eliminating malaria completely in Botswana. To increase surveillance we’re using a targeted localized approach which relies on accurate mapping.

OpenStreetMap is a new technology where the public can contribute to better map the world which is an incredible benefit to Peace Corps volunteers in more remote areas. Our request? Those living in or familiar with Chobe District (listed by priority Kachikau, Kazungula, Kasane, Mabele, Parakarungu, Kavimba, Satau, Lesoma, Pandamatenga) in Botswana, help us map these areas.

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 12.59.00 PM

With this information we can better ensure that each and every household is covered by IRS (indoor residual spraying), or a LLIN (long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito net), that every positive case is located, followed up, and categorized as local or imported and treated. This mapping has the potential to also help with  tracking TB cases, water and sanitation issues, and more

With your fast internet and our on-the-ground knowledge, together we can help Botswana eradicate malaria by 2018. Nyeletsa Malaria!


HOW TO HELP IN EIGHT SIMPLE STEPS

(links to a youtube video if you want to see how its done)

1. Go to openstreetmap.org and register
2. Confirm the email address in your inbox
3. Login
4. Search Kachikau, Botswana (or Kazungula, Kasane, Mabele, Parakarungu, Kavimba, Satau, Lesome, Pandamatenga)
5. Click “Edit”
6. Use the “Area” tool to start outlining house (we need to outline both traditional and modern structures)
7. SAVE! Tah-dah
8. Feel good about having done your part in helping to end malaria in our lifetime.

For some awesome people who are passionate about mapping Botswana check them out on Facebook. Technology can be fun…!

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