Communities working together to prevent malaria
June 2010: Malaria is the biggest cause of death for under 5s in Benin, but communities are fighting it thanks to a project called Palu Alafia.
Palu Alafia was initiated when the state and non-governmental organisations joined forces to fight against the disease. Plan Benin, in partnership with health centres and community organisations like women’s groups, youth groups and farming cooperatives, is responsible for the implementation of this project in the department of Atacora.
The project trains 3 members from each partner community organisation in community participation, malaria prevention, and how to treat malaria in under 5s with Artemisinin Combination Therapy* (ACT). The trained community members then organise 10 education sessions and 8 home visits per month for parents or guardians of children under 5.
Communities are acting
In Tora, the effects of the project can already be seen. This community is taking action: running sessions to sensitise populations on the importance of cleanliness, ensuring pregnant women and children sleep under a mosquito net, weeding to reduce mosquito numbers, and closing doors and windows around 5 o’clock to prevent mosquitoes from getting into rooms. Each month, there are 3 ‘healthy days’ when the whole village is cleaned.
A mother said:”Thanks to Palu Alafia, fewer children are ill from malaria and we spend less on medicines.”
The substantial work that has been done in this community has been possible thanks to the effort of the women and community organisations, and the support which these groups receive from the advisory council of the village.
Encouragingly, the rate of malaria amongst children below 5 in Tora has fallen significantly thanks to the preventative efforts of the community.
On a wider scale, in the Atacora department, Palu Alafia has some impressive achievements. In 16 months of implementation, the project has trained 615 community organisation members, and equipped 283 with medical kits each containing 60 packets of ACT. 18,756 educational sessions have been organised.
43, 580 children under 5 have been treated with ACT, and 1313 children under 6 months have been accompanied to health centres by trained community organisation members.
The first phase of Palu Alafia has had solid results. The second phase, which will cover the next 3 years, is currently being negotiated.