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 primary goal of this distribution to fill the gap of households who did not receive enough nets during the 2011 distribution, which consisted of about 1500 bednets. Without enough resources to fund 1500 bednets, Barbara decided to narrow down the focus of the second distribution. Barbara learned that children where the most vulnerable group in her area. During the first quarter of 2012, there were 1083 positive RDT for malaria and 60% of those were children. Therefore, this distribution targeted households with children under five who did not have bed nets.
The 12 Neighbor Health Committees conducted village inspections to determine how many people live in each household, how many children under five inhabit each household, and how many usable bed nets each household owns. Barbara compared these inspections to the 2011 census to verify the accuracy and to determine which villages would be eligible to receive bed nets. In the next couple weeks, Barbara and her community counterpart, Mr. Peter Musengaa , will conduct follow-up home visits in each village to evaluate whether or not the recipients are accurately using their bed nets.
The event was a huge success. Local media including the Zampost from Kabwe and the Mpika radio station covered the event. Six villages were covered in the distribution: Chisengo, Masongo, Kabenga, Chakopo, Chinjele and Mikuba. Over 550 bed nets were distributed and the remaining bed nets will be distributed at antenatal and children under five clinic visits. The village headmen, volunteers from the Neighbor Health Committees, Sub Chief Masongo, and Sub Chief Katema all played an instrumental role in the in the success of the distribution. Notable guests included Mr. Patrick Muma, the Mpika District Public Health Officer, Mrs. Rose Mwaba, Mpika District Nurse, and Ms. Jane Coleman, the Malaria Coordinator for Peace Corps Zambia. Peace Corps Volunteers Kristin Turner, Valerie Booth, and Kristen Buck assisted in distribution efforts throughout the day.
The day also aimed to educate the population about malaria prevention and proper bed net hanging and repair techniques. Students from the Chikakala Basic School and members of the Twatasha Women’s Group performed dramas and songs about malaria and how to protect yourself from contracting the disease. HIV/AIDS education and prevention was also a focus of the event. Volunteers distributed information regarding Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) for HIV/AIDS. Free testing facilities were also available to the public. Overall, 45 community members were tested.
Stomp Zambia and our partners hope that this distribution has filled in some of the gaps from last year’s distribution shortage. The project will serve as a learning tool for future malaria projects and distributions. This event has also motivated PCVs to participate in the bednet distributions in their own sites.