Delivering Malaria Care in Senegal: Part two

This post was written by 2014 GHDI graduate, Daniel Hodson was originally published on Global Health Delivery Project. This is the second post in a three part series by Daniel. Click here to read part one.

Stock-outs and stock-ins

Though the task of delivering tests and medicine is a never ending process, we have made progress.

01 September 2013, I visited the HMM provider in Sare Moussayel, which sits just off the Gambian border in the far north of the catchment area of the health post of Badion in the health district of Medina Yoro Foulah in the region of Kolda in the southern half of Senegal, West Africa. It is a rural village centered on subsistence agriculture, and while the residents may sometimes make the 25-30 kilometer trek to Badion for government affairs or its health post, they carry Gambian currency, use a Gambian cell phone carrier, and process their grains on the Gambian side of the border.

Kolda-Senegal

Similarly to my visit to Ndiery a few months earlier, Yaya showed me his empty medicine trunk and official messenger bag, and we discussed the history of his work since he was trained in 2010. He tested about 35 patients that year; that is to say, he received about 35 tests. In 2011, he received at least two boxes of tests (50 total), and his records show he treated about 36 patients from mid-August to mid-September.

In 2012, he did not receive any tests or medicine, and there I was on the first of September in 2013, and Yaya had yet to receive any supplies.

Before I moved on, Yaya asked that we call some of the villagers together to do an informal training on malaria. Towards the end, as often happens, one man spoke and finally brought the prosaic discussion on point.

There are many problems, he said. The health post in Badion is far, and the roads are very bad (sand bush paths or pot-hole ridden dirt road). But people know malaria when they see it, he added.

I tried not to betray an audible sigh, for the man was of course entirely right on all accounts. I had encountered his comments, or similar ones, during many of the group trainings and home visits I had conducted in 2012. It is nothing short of awkward: You teach people about malaria when they have lived it their entire lives and know far more than you. You tell them to go to the nearest health facility; they tell how far it is and how difficult the transportation. You tell them about treatment options; they ask, buy western medicine with what money? You tell people some medicine is actually free (like first line antimalarials in Senegal), and they tell you it is never available.

The man highlighted what I had already leaned; the main issue is poor delivery by the health system, not (lack of) education on the part of the villagers. Rather than the need for these villagers to change their beliefs or behaviors, I constantly saw the need in places like Sare Moussayel for higher level staff to reverse their affinity for the error of fundamental attributionand to change the broken system that had been failing to deliver supplies to villages like Yaya’s.

If they tried to take a sick person all the way to Badion, he said at one point, the patient would die en route. The government should build them a health facility in their village.

As demoralizing as the routine can be, this time at least I could draw their attention to a point of progress. You are right, I replied, and the government has recognized that you are far from the health post and in need of a health facility. Actually, that is why Yaya was trained way back in 2010, to identify, test, and treat simple malaria right here in your village. The only problem is…..

……he has had no medicine.

While in my first site in 2012, I was not in a position to do much of anything to address the issue(s). This time, as I was just beginning to disentangle the chains of supply that needed to deliver Yaya tests and medicine, I hoped (wondering if it was even possible) that I might one day return to Sare Moussayel and find Yaya well stocked with tests and medicines and treating patients.

Over the course of the following four months, we worked to procure a sufficient amount of tests and medicines for our district and to deliver these supplies to all levels of the health structure, from the district health center right next to the district storeroom, to all the health posts, to all the health huts, and even to HMM providers like Yaya.

In January, I personally collected and reviewed the consultation registers of all 95 CHWs who had received supplies in 2013. For Yaya, his record showed far more days in rupture than with stock, so like I had seen with Ndiery six months earlier, all we saw was the potential:

Yaya received twelve doses in September and used them all in a single day.

Fifty three doses in October lasted only three days.

Sixty six doses in November lasted nine days.

In December, as peak season ended, he finally received enough supplies to cover the then declining need and treated 71 cases in 24 days.

In 2013, the district had endured a violent spike in malaria clinical burden, and for well frequented sites like Yaya’s, there seemed to be no ceiling to the need for supplies. The number of cases tested or treated literally only reflected the number of tests or medicines he had available to use.

Fast forward.

In the spring, I scoured district records, obsessed, one might say, with finding enough information to better estimate our needs for the coming year and to more convincing justify our very real need for seemingly ridiculous quantities of tests and medicine. Fooled once, yes, but I was terrified to fail to avoid for a second time the kind of situation Yaya had experienced in Sare Moussayel.

In June, the district medical director and I presented to the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) on the dynamic of malaria in our district, the true burden for which we now had evidence, and a new way to use facility based records to generate population based estimates of clinical burden. We used Sare Moussayel as one example of a community site with the potential to treat hundreds of patients over the course of a season. The NMCP appropriated us the largest quantities of supplies ever promised to our young district, enough we hoped for all of peak season, and so the task fell back on us to properly procure and distribute these supplies.

In July, I took home leave for the first time since joining Peace Corps in October of 2010 to complete the Global Health Delivery Summer Intensive at the Harvard School of Public Health. I learned to describe our task as needing to deliver supplies to a specific, underlying epidemiological need, rather than the drastically muted and superficial demand, noting how neither the need nor the demand had been satisfied in 2013.

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In September, we distributed large quantities of supplies to all our health posts and included detailed instructions on the quantities to pass along to each individual community site. Because Yaya used his supplies so quickly in 2013, I struggled with my minimal math skills to generate any kind of reasonable, empirically derived estimate of the number of cases Yaya might be expected to treat in 2014.

In the end, my list of estimates for October and November reads 253 for Sare Moussayel.

In October alone, Yaya treated 240 cases.

What caught my attention this time was not the number of cases, for we had learned the potential was there all along, but how the number represents that Yaya actually had enough supplies to test and treat over two hundred cases in a single month.

23 November 2014. I finally stole the time to get back on my bike and check in with some of our community sites. I rode the 30 or 40k to Sare Moussayel and found Yaya just leaving the new health hut to head home for lunch. As of the 23rd, he had treated about 170 cases in November, and with 59 cases in the last 7 days, his caseload had not yet shown the sharp decrease that signals the wane of the high transmission season. But this year, there is less panic; I remind him we had already sent a large carton of tests and medicine to his health post earlier in the week; he tells me he had already been planning to head to the post for more supplies that very evening. Among the intangible points of progress this year, one might dare to sense a hint of trust or confidence sneaking back into the system.

In a kind of disbelief that the malaria burden could actually be that high, the running hypothesis around the district had been that Yaya was drawing a large number of Gambian patients, given his proximity to the border. Of the 59 cases in previous week, 20 were from his village itself, 57 were from other villages in the catchment area….and only 2 were from the Gambia.

Posted in Senegal Tagged with: , , ,

Weekly Awesome Rwanda: Eastern Province BE Camp Stomps Malaria

By PCV James Dineen

This past November, the Eastern Province of Rwanda held their annual BE Camp (Boys Excelling). This year, we decided to switch up the usual lesson plans and schedule to make it more fun and interactive for the campers. We had a week of 70 secondary school boys, 9 Junior Facilitators ( campers who have been to a previous camp and help as leaders/translators,) and 7 senior facilitators ( adult Rwandans, both male and female who serve as co-facilitators with PCVs for the lessons.) For our main lessons we focused on HIV prevention, resume building, condom demonstrations, peer pressure, micro finance, hygiene, physical, mental & social health, as well as how to bring what you learned at BE back into your communities.  We also had fun afternoon activities such as banana bread baking, paper mache mask making, sports and talent shows.

Campers play Bed Net Ball and learn about the importance of sleeping under a bed net.

Campers play Bed Net Ball and learn about the importance of sleeping under a bed net.

The Eastern Province has four of the top five districts for malaria cases. As volunteers we wanted to teach them about malaria prevention in a way that they hadn’t seen before and would hopefully have fun with. We decided to use the Grassroot Soccer, Skillz Malaria curriculum We decided to not teach the third lesson as it focuses on natural healers and Rwanda does not have those, so the message would have been lost to the boys.

In order to give our junior facilitators more opportunity to build self confidence and leadership skills, we used them as co-facilitators of each lesson, and we were able to translate all of the English into Kinyarwanda for the younger campers who could not understand English as well as the older students. The students all really enjoyed learning the lessons and we had a 11.5% increase in knowledge from the pre/post test!
Also, one thing that separates our camp from the rest of Rwanda is that we are the only region to both provide AND distribute bed nets to every single camper, junior facilitator and senior facilitator. Overall distributing 85 LLINs in total.
Posted in Rwanda, Weekly Awesome, Youth Camps Tagged with: , , , , ,

Weekly Awesome Rwanda: Southern Region BE Camp

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From November 10th to 14th, Peace Corps Rwanda volunteers in the Southern Province convened in Muhanga district to hold Boys Excelling (BE) Camp at VTC Mpanda School. This BE camp brought together 60 boys from secondary schools in the southern province, to teach them healthy behaviors, professional skills, as well as to engage them in different activities and games throughout the week. The specific  topics included HIV/AIDS, sexual health, resume building, servant-leadership, hygiene, nutrition, and of course Malaria!

To highlight the importance of malaria awareness and prevention, the four camp families (classes) were each given a 20 minute interactive Malaria lesson. The classes started off with a discussion about malaria in the boys communities. Beacause Malaria the the most common health problem in many parts of the country, most youths are already informed about malaria, and thus establishing that it’s relevant to their personal lives is an important step to achieving behavior change in the long-run.

To start off the lesson I asked the boys questions such as if malaria is a problem in their community, and if they had ever known someone, or they themselves, had ever had malaria. I asked them to brainstorm ways it affected their daily lives or the lives of those they knew. Through answering these questions individually and as a group, the boys were able to make the connection that malaria is not only a problem because it can lead to death, but also because it can lead to missing out on daily life activities such as going to school or work which create further disadvantages for the individual, their family, and the community as a whole.

The second half of the malaria lesson consisted of the interactive activity, ‘Take a Step Forward.’ In this activity, students lined up on the basketball court, and were asked to take one step forward if the statement I read applied to them or was true for them. The statements read included the following:

  • I know what malaria is
  • I know how to prevent malaria
  • I have a mosquito net where I sleep
  • I know someone who has suffered from Malaria
  • I have had malaria
  • I know someone who has died from malaria
  • I sleep under a mosquito net every night
  • I close my windows at night

During each step of the activity, I asked the boys follow-up questions about malaria, including how it is prevented, where mosquito nets can be acquired, and who has the highest risk of getting malaria. As expected, the boys were all well informed about malaria and how they can prevent it, however I think that seeing how they all had somewhat similar expereinces with the disease despite being from different parts of the country helped highlight that malaria truly is a concern in Rwanda and an illness they should be adamant about preventing for themselves and for their communites.

 

By: Vanessa Da Costa

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

Delivering Malaria Care in Senegal: Part one

originally published on Global Health Delivery Project

This post was written by 2014 GHDI graduate, Daniel Hodson. This is the first post in a three part series by Daniel. 

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Fifty nine confirmed cases of malaria in November 2011.

What caught my attention was that these fifty nine cases were recorded during only nine days.

During the other 22 days, this home based management of malaria (HMM) provider lacked medicine, tests, or most likely, both. Having lived in a small, rural village for over two years and engaged in a range of malaria education and prevention activities in the village setting, the unavailability of first line tests and medicines was nothing new and not surprising. I had taken to describing periods with supplies as stock-ins rather than periods without supplies as stock-outs to emphasis the true status quo of those years.

What was surprising was the clinical burden reported by this community health worker (CHW) during the nine days he had the ability to test and treat (and therefore detect) cases.

October 2012 : 88 cases, 19 days.

Like the artisanal gold miners much farther to my east, I felt I had unearthed a treasure, and even amidst the innumerable lessons and countless breakthrough moments, exploring this community health worker’s consultation register proved an early, formative discovery, revealing a huge, unrealized potential to treat malaria cases if supplies were made available.

While it took perhaps a single hour to open the register, dialogue with Ndiery, and arrive at that realization, the task of ensuring adequate supplies for not just one HMM provider, but for all the 113 health facilities and community health workers in our district is far from finished sixteen months later.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, now in my fourth year of what I am told is usually a two year contract. I am grateful for our unique role and perspective.  A foreigner, but speaking a local language; well integrated into the health system, but not actually a part of it. The delicate dance means that through building relationships, I have had the opportunity, freedom, and privilege to work with every level of the health system from community health workers to health post staff to district leadership to national level decision makers. Sometimes I feel my role is simply to serve as a bridge among the levels, making the rural reality salient to higher levels and helping deliver the resources back down the hierarchy.

Too often, I sense the gaggles of international experts, NGO staff, or even national level staff from the capital cast local staff in the role of “other”.  Peace Corps service gifts a different perspective; these communities have been my home, these patients my friends and neighbors, and the local staff my colleagues and mentors.  I can describe to you the challenges of traveling to the health post to retrieve medicine, because I biked those paths myself. I can tell you the frustration of mindless paperwork, because I have stared eyes glazed over at those same forms. I can lend you insight into the thoughts of local staff, because they have voiced their honest minds to me in their native tongue. I will quickly describe the problems at each level, but I will also just as quickly defend the individuals at every level who work harder than I ever have, and who endure the system longer than I will ever be made to do.

Local language skills, intimate integration into the local community, and relationships built on common respect and trust have formed the basis of my Peace Corps service from the very beginning, and I hope these values will endure in my character beyond my finite time as a Volunteer.

 

 

Posted in Senegal Tagged with: , , , , ,

Weekly Awesome Rwanda: Can I Get a Malaria Kilo?!

written by PCV Lauren Wright, Malaria Coordinator (Rwanda)

What has Peace Corps Rwanda been up to lately? Camps and more camps! November was filled with 3 camps focusing on HIV and malaria prevention: Girls Leading Our World Camps, Boys Excelling Camps, and a Grassroot Soccer Tournament.

I had the opportunity to attend Rwanda’s first ever Grassroot Soccer Tournament, held in Musanze in view of the beautiful volcanoes. Around 100 students came from around the country to learn about HIV and malaria and to play some soccer. Every morning started out with energizers and our interventions. Students participated in 8 practices about avoiding HIV and one about preventing malaria. Students had great energy during every practice and bonded well with their new teammates. They were also curious and had lots of thought-provoking questions. In the afternoons, it was game time. Teams, each sporting their colorful t-shirts, faced off with each other in our GRS bracket, hoping to make it to the final match. Come rain or shine, students played hard out on the field and had lots of fun! All in all Grassroot Soccer camp was a fun experience for students, facilitators, and PCVs alike. I’m excited to see this tournament continue at Peace Corps Rwanda in the future.

Students at GRS Camp play Risk Field to learn about risky behaviors regarding HIV transmission

Students at GRS Camp play Risk Field to learn about risky behaviors regarding HIV transmission

Team Tigers plays Bet Net Ball to learn about the importance of sleeping under a mosquito net every night.

Team Tigers plays Bet Net Ball to learn about the importance of sleeping under a mosquito net every night.

Players participate in an intervention in the shadows of Rwanda's volcanoes.

Players participate in an intervention in the shadows of Rwanda’s volcanoes.

They're ready to play some soccer!

They’re ready to play some soccer!

 

 

 

Posted in Rwanda, Weekly Awesome

Weekly Awesome Rwanda: Using Social Media in the Fight Against Malaria

Stomp Rwanda Twitter ScreenshotIn recent years, social media has not only been increasingly used to spread information about news, sports, and events, but also to inform the world about the work of the government, businesses, and a wide array of organizations and initiatives. Specifically twitter has become one of the primary ways people around the world are accessing different types of information in a short period of time.

In the realm of global health, twitter has created a forum for learning and discussion among organizations, advocates, and anyone who is interested in joining the dialogue. For example, the Peace Corps Stomp Out Malaria twitter (@StompOutMalaria) is used to inform its followers about its Malaria work in 23 Peace Corps Africa countries, in addition to connecting with its partners and other Malaria-focused health initiatives.

Although Malaria is present in the ‘twitterverse,’ information about this health problem is not as quickly disseminated or as widely discussed as much as other health problems such as HIV/AIDS, because it isn’t a health concern in many parts of the world. However, apart from HIV/AIDS Malaria is the leading cause of death in Africa, so it is imperative that we join the health community in using social media as a resource to share information about this disease.

When looking at Malaria, it is not surprising that the most involved contributors are the organizations and initiatives that are primarily or solely focused on Malaria prevention. These range from nonprofits as big as Malaria No More, a non-profit organization focused on advocacy and government engagement, to smaller non-profits such as the Malaria Defense Project, which was started by a teenager in a Colorado community to raise donations for mosquito net distributions in Africa. If it wasn’t for social media outlets like these, I, and many other people around the world, may never have been informed about the story of one Ugandan family, who used to have to travel more than 8 kilometers every month for Malaria treatment, before having accessing to mosquito nets for the entire family. (Read this story here).

As part of expanding the media and communications STOMP Out Malaria outlets, my fellow RMV Erin Baumgartel and I have recently added Peace Corps Rwanda to the Malaria dialogue on twitter, in the hopes of connecting the work of Stomp Out Malaria Volunteers in Rwanda with the Peace Corps community and other Malaria initiatives, as well as to the Rwanda health community to further increase the focus on Malaria prevention and elimination. Additionally we hope to inform and positively influence people back home about the importance of Malaria awareness not only here in Rwanda, but also in the global health community as a whole!

Below is a list of 5 Malaria-related twitters I recommend you follow:
-@MalariaNoMore, @RollBackMalaria, @StompM_Moz@bbbrieger, @NetsinAction

Join our Peace Corps Rwanda Malaria dialogue:
-Facebook: STOMP Rwanda Malaria Team
-Twitter and Instagram: @StompRwanda

By: Vanessa Da Costa

Posted in Media, Rwanda, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Boot Camp XI: Bringing Stomp Back to Cameroon

written by PCV Hannah Purkey (Cameroon)

PCV Hanna Purkey (Cameroon). Boot Camp XI - December 2014. Photo by: PCRV Teneasha Pierson

PCV Hanna Purkey (Cameroon). Boot Camp XI – December 2014. Photo by: PCRV Teneasha Pierson

As we begin to close on the two weeks of STOMP Out Malaria Boot Camp in Senegal, I can’t help but think, wow. These past two weeks have been an opportunity to study the ins and outs of a disease that affects millions of people across the globe, learn from the leading experts in the field of malaria and feel inspired by the work that Peace Corps Volunteers are doing all across the continent in order to save lives and eradicate the disease. Every day, we have been encouraged to come up with innovative ways of combating this disease in our communities, and to evaluate the ideas and norms surrounding malaria prevention and treatment that may already exist.

In a few days I will head back home with pages and pages of notes and ideas about how Peace Corps Cameroon can incorporate malaria activities and training into the fiber of our mission and work in country. Despite how inspired I feel, thinking about effectively sharing the information and insights I have gained at Boot Camp to Peace Corps staff and volunteers in Cameroon seems a bit daunting. How can I infect my peers with the same purpose and sense of urgency that I now feel after participating in the STOMP Boot Camp? For me these past two weeks come down to three basic ideas that lie at the root of malaria work and will play a critical role in creating projects that are effective in bringing us closer to reducing and eventually eliminating the threat of malaria.

  1. Find the Levers: Malaria prevention, like most health interventions, is based on the principle of behavior change. Just knowing mosquitoes are the cause of malaria isn’t enough, you also have to make the conscious decision to sleep under your bed net every night. One of the aspects of Boot Camp that for me has changed the way I think about project implementation is the notion that in order to get people to change their behavior you have to know what makes them act the way they do. There are so many reasons an individual may choose not to use their net, or seek rapid treatment or adhere to pre-natal consultations and unless you are able to identify the motivations in your community, you are going to have a much harder time creating impactful projects. Taking the time to do your formative research, including doer/non doer surveys, will the make a world difference in the impact your work will have. And anyways, in the words of Matthew McLaughlin, data is sexy!
  1. No Reason Not To: If you are looking to fill a Friday afternoon or wanting to create a long-term behavior change campaign, there is a malaria project for you. If you are a health or agriculture or education volunteer there are ways to incorporate malaria into the work you are already busy doing. Whether your favorite focus group is kids, or mothers, or farmers there are activities tailored to fit each of these. If you fancy group collaboration or prefer flying solo, there many projects you can do. No matter the location, the time, the language or the community, there is an easy way to make malaria fit your volunteer experience. In a malaria endemic area, the need is obvious, and prevention activities will have visible and hopefully measurable outcome. But at the same time, volunteers living in regions where the malaria burden is less obvious still have an important role to play in helping to ensure that the malaria prevalence remains low as countries begin to move into elimination. This message is so important to bring back to Cameroon because it means there is no reason not to do it. Malaria work is important everywhere and can fit any community and scope of work.
  1. Be Part of Something Big: As Peace Corps Volunteers, there are days when we feel like an important part of a development organization that spans over fifty years and more than 130 countries. But there are also days when it doesn’t feel like the work we do on an individual level means much at all or will ever make it past the boundaries of our villages. One of the messages that has made the STOMP Malaria Boot Camp so powerful is the understanding that malaria work is urgent. And not only is it urgent, but if done right our projects have the power to transcend villages, regions and even countries to make a difference in the fight to eradicate malaria. When thinking about project design and implementation, it is critical to keep in mind how your experience and ideas can teach others and how your success can be replicated on a larger scale. On those days when we feel alone in this experience, we can remember the work that other PCVs, RPCVs and leaders in the malaria field are doing across the globe and hold ourselves accountable to doing our piece to achieve the goal of eradication. This feeling of purpose and determination was best articulated by Duncan Earle from MACEPA when he said, “there is no other reasonable goal [besides eradication of the disease].”

And now it’s time for the ideas from Boot Camp to spread across Africa as we travel home to our host countries. We are coming back armed with the knowledge, tools and inspiration to help Peace Corps Volunteers do their part to fight this disease. Get ready Cameroon, the desire to do malaria work is infectious!

Posted in Boot Camp, Cameroon Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Boot Camp XI: A New Appreciation for Monitoring and Evaluation

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Chris Uller, 3rd year Peace Corps Volunteer (Senegal) and Vanessa Dickey, Director of Programming and Training for Peace Corps Senegal writing potential questions of a doer/nondoer survey created by Boot Camp XI participants. Photo by Teneasha Pierson, PCRV.

written by: Ron Walters, Peace Corps Volunteer (Benin)

If you were bored and decided (for some odd reason) to search in the dictionary for “cliche English graduate”, you would probably find my picture. I am a vocal defender of the humanities, an outspoken advocate for the inherent worth of an education rather than vocational training, and one of those people who can write pages upon pages upon pages about the value of an education that focuses solely on the written word, the non quantifiable story, the heart-warming anecdote. Yea – I’m that guy you would probably meet at a Starbucks in the fall, writing a paper about a book you have never heard of, and walk away thinking “Wow – he really needs a job”.

I joined Peace Corps because I had been sold on the power of the anecdotal story, but when questioned about the efficacy of Peace Corps’ model by friends and family, I was unable to offer anything but those stories, and I began to realize that data – the objective, quantifiable, measurable stuff we use to justify our existence to Congress and the world – is, despite all my attempts to ignore it, an unavoidable part of my professional life. This realization, however, did not equate into practice. It took 18 months of Peace Corps service, and our Boot Camp Malaria training to truly comprehend that data could be something more than an annoyance; that reporting and monitoring and evaluation could be something more than an unfortunate side affect of the job I had to do. Data is, quite frankly, awesome.

On Friday, the Stomp Out Malaria Boot Camp XI training group engaged in a day of activities designed to facilitate understanding of the Doer / Nondoer analysis; a survey tool that allows a researcher to observe what prevents individuals from carrying out certain behaviors and what trends exist within communities. Vanessa Dickey, Director of Programming and Training for Peace Corps Senegal and Chris Uller 3rd year Peace Crops Volunteer facilitated our Doer/Nondoer session.

Vanessa Dickey, Director of Programming and Training for Peace Corps Senegal facilitating Doer/Nondoer session for Stomp Out Malaria Boot Camp XI. Photo by: Teneasha Pierson

Vanessa Dickey, Director of Programming and Training for Peace Corps Senegal facilitating Doer/Nondoer session for Stomp Out Malaria Boot Camp XI. Photo by: Teneasha Pierson, PCRV

Matt McLaughlin Program Manager for Stomp Out Malaria writing Doer/Nondoer group assignment for Boot Camp XI participants. Photo by: PCRV Teneasha Pierson

Matt McLaughlin Program Manager for Stomp Out Malaria writing Doer/Nondoer group assignment for Boot Camp XI participants. Photo by: Teneasha Pierson, PCRV

PCV Charolette Steppling (Madagascar) and group mates writing the results of their doer/nondoer survey question. Photo by: Teneasha Pierson, PCRV

PCV Charolette Steppling (Madagascar) and group mates writing the results of their doer/nondoer survey question. Photo by: Teneasha Pierson, PCRV

The analysis involves the creation of a survey, recording of the responses, and eventual evaluation of the gathered responses. We carried out this analysis to determine what encouraged some volunteers to regularly exercise (doers) and prevented other volunteers from exercising (nondoers). Among the interesting results, we discovered that amongst volunteers who did not exercise, most knew that exercising led to healthier lifestyles, but the desire to “not be fat” was not a significant motivational factor. Rather, having an exercise buddy or another individual to hold them accountable proved to be a far larger factor in explaining why volunteers did not exercise. We then, in our pretend roles as Peace Corps Medical Officers, designed an intervention to increase our volunteers’ exercising habits, based on our data gathered from our formative research in the survey.

Data, and everything that accompanies it – the trends it shows, the patterns it reveals, the gaps it identifies – is beautiful. It is a foreign language that I am only beginning to understand, but it is speaking to me. It helps us identify what our communities truly lack, understand what individuals behavior actually means in the context of our environments, and allows volunteers to specifically target those gaps in knowledge and behavior. With data, we can quantify, justify, and improve our community interventions. With data, we can create better, more efficient interventions. With data, we can better understand this vast, weird, confusing world we live and work in, make better sense of it, and design more dynamic and impactful interventions to improve the lives of those with whom we live and work.

PCV Sarah Mollenkof (Senegal) and John Esplana (Zambia) and group mates writing results of their doer/nondoer survey. Photo by: Teneasha Pierson, PCRV

PCV Sarah Mollenkof (Senegal) and John Esplana (Zambia) and group mates writing results of their doer/nondoer survey. Photo by: Teneasha Pierson, PCRV

Matt McLaughlin, Program Manager for Stomp Out Malaria reviewing results of doer/nondoer Boot Camp XI assignment. Photo by: Teneasha Pierson, PCRV

Matt McLaughlin, Program Manager for Stomp Out Malaria reviewing results of doer/nondoer Boot Camp XI assignment. Photo by: Teneasha Pierson, PCRV

Posted in Boot Camp, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , ,

Boot Camp XI: Day 1 Recap

Thies Training Center. Photo by: PCV Emily Biester

by Emily Biester, PCV Madagascar

We, 29 Peace Corps Volunteers and one Peace Corps staff member, are now officially Boot Camp XI participants. On the first day we trickled in to the training center in Thiès, Senegal from 13 countries across Africa, with some volunteers traveling from as far as Madagascar, and others from as nearby as The Gambia. That morning a few generous Senegal volunteers took boot campers who had arrived the night before to the market, where many purchased some of the beautiful fabrics on display.

After lunch, we came together for our first afternoon session: “Welcome to Stomp,” led by Matt McLaughlin, the Program Manager for Stomping out Malaria in Africa. This session set the tone for the rest of the camp. It inspired us as Peace Corps Volunteers to recognize our unique position as not just field workers, but individuals who’ve been accepted as members of our host communities. We’ve lost community members to malaria. We’ve watched our students miss the majority of a term because of malaria. We’ve seen small businesses close because the revenue is spent on malaria treatment. In every sector we have felt the negative effects of malaria, and each and every one of us is dedicated to do our part to eradicate this terrible disease.

Our motivational start culminated in a pizza dinner at a local restaurant where we shared experiences and cultural practices in our host countries with each other. Everyone seemed ready and motivated for the days of training to come, and, of course, to work together to Stomp Out Malaria in Africa, and beyond.

 

Posted in Boot Camp Tagged with: , ,

Weekly Awesome Mozambique Malaria Mural in Homoine, Inhambane

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There is a new Malaria Prevention Mural in Homoine, Inhambane. It all started in April during Malaria Awareness Month. Peace Corps Volunteer Melanie Bolden collaborated with the University of Albany, where she is getting a Masters in Public Health.  She submitted a short video for her classmates to play during their International Night event. The event featured a fundraiser for Master’s International students working in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result of this fundraiser, Melanie was able to apply for a Peace Corps PCPP grant to paint a mural in her town.

As a part of the project, a district-wide design competition was held among the secondary school students in the district. The 1st place design was painted on the entryway wall to the local soccer field, Campo Monte Binga. It is a fairly large wall space on the town’s main road and can be seen by people travelling through the district. The mural was painted by children and members of the immediate community, including local community activists and volunteers with the associations Melanie works with including Associacao Kurula, Associacao Kulhaissa, Rede Pastoral and Os Educadores de Pares.

In August, Melanie with representatives from the Malaria Task Force organized a two-day Training of Trainers with 20 representatives from the four organizations she works with. The two-day training covered malaria transmission, prevention, symptoms and treatment. On the second day, the group worked on devising an action plan to prevent malaria in their community. The mural painting was a focus of the action plan. All participants were required to participate in one of  nine mural painting days or to participate in other malaria prevention activities. All members participated in one or more of the following activities: Mural Painting days and Lesson on Malaria prevention, Malaria Day at the Children’s Library in Homoine or the Inauguration Ceremony or community outreach/lessons on Malaria prevention with community members.

The entire project was a collaboration with the district education offices, the district hospital and the district infra-structure offices. It took a while to get everything done, but it all came together.

On November 12th, the district of Homoine hosted an inauguration ceremony, in which the director of the district hospital, the district education director and representatives from the district administration offices came to participate and present the mural. Some of the TOT participants held informational talks on malaria prevention and treatment.

Melanie and Peace Corps Mozambique are thrilled with the success of this project! Melanie is so thankful for all the support she received. And because of this mural’s success, Melanie is motivated to go on and do a second mural in the district in one of the more remote areas. The mural will be about malaria and HIV prevention and awareness

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