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Women join the fight against malaria

Setou Coulibaly with her children under their mosquito net
Setou Coulibaly with her children under their mosquito net.

Plan International Mali is committed to improving communities’ access to quality health care, including immunisation, the prevention of malnutrition, malaria-prevention and combatting open defecation. We have partnered with hundreds of community health workers to offer training in managing children’s illnesses, adolescent reproductive and sexual health and emergency obstetric and neonatal care, and we also focus on raising awareness about the use of impregnated nets to reduce instances of malaria, and we have seen a marked improvement in community practices.

Setou Coulibaly, 40, feels happy to have all her 3 children alive. Many women in Djidjan, Mali, are powerless against malaria, and have witnessed the death of at least 1 of their children.

But today, the situation has changed thanks to the efforts of women like Setou, who are working in partnership with Plan International Mali to eradicate malaria by promoting the use of insecticide-treated nets.

For many years, malaria was considered a chronic disease in the village of Djidjan. Women were not concerned about the adverse effects of mosquito bites on children. When they were sick, children received no treatment and very often, complications resulted in death.

ʺEach year, approximately 35% of children under 5 had malaria,” says the health agent for the village, Daouda Keita. “At least a dozen died.”

Setou and her friends are now convinced of the multiple benefits of efforts to prevent malaria. With the help of Plan International, they educate other women of the village to clean up the environment and make constant use of the impregnated mosquito net.

ʺLike me, many women in Djidjan now sleep with their children under the mosquito net,” says Setou.

According to the mothers, this practice has led to a decline of more than 20% of the malaria prevalence rate. Pregnant and lactating women coming for antenatal care at the health centre of the village receive the nets for free, but for other patients especially mothers, the price of a net is still 3,000 FCFA (€5).

ʺThe prevention strategy which is starting to get into the habits of women of Djidjan is due mainly to the increase in their power to buy the nets, which are not free for the population,” says Setou.

Along with other women, Setou is a member of a Village Savings and Loans Association set up by Plan International, which allows women to develop income-generating activities such as the rearing of goats. Profits from sales enable them to ensure their daily needs and to protect themselves and their children from malaria by buying nets.

"I bought by myself 3 nets at 9,000 frs (€ 14). Now all of my children are protected from malaria," says Setou with a smile.