UMCOR / News Room / News & Features / Archives 2006 / 20060522

Getting the Word Out: HIV/AIDS and Malaria Education in Cameroon

The United Methodist Church in Cameroon's HIV/AIDS Team recently added malaria to their curriculum. The five member team, composed of four United Methodists from Cameroon and one United Methodist volunteer from the US, travels to different areas in Cameroon's countryside teaching people about these preventable and deadly diseases. On their most recent trip they were able to distribute 300 mosquito nets through UMCOR's Community Based Malaria Control program.

The HIV/AIDS and Malaria Team conducts their program in rural areas. Before the workshop begins team members walk through the village, inviting anyone they see to come. They also go door-to-door; focusing especially on those houses with children's clothing drying on the line. Pregnant mothers and children are often the ones most vulnerable to disease.

During the workshop, each team member talks on a different topic, giving visual examples to help the listeners understand and remember what they learned. The workshop includes a discussion on importance of HIV/AIDS testing and knowing how to live with an HIV+ diagnosis. Then they also talk about malaria, how it's spread, and how to treat it. Participants learn how to treat a mosquito net with chemicals to increase its effectiveness in preventing malaria. They also learn the importance of taking all their malaria medications to get better. The team concludes the workshop by discussing the social consequences of these diseases-how people with HIV/AIDS are stigmatized and how God would like us to treat those who are sick with HIV/AIDS and malaria. After all the presentations the team asks participants questions to see what they learned. Each person with a correct answer gets a t-shirt with the program's logo on it saying "Embracing All God's Children."

At the conclusion of the workshop the team reminds everyone of the importance of using mosquito nets and then hands them out. So many people attended the workshops they had to limit the nets to pregnant women and families with small children - the ones most vulnerable to malaria. The disease affects 500 million people worldwide; 90 percent of whom live in sub-Sahara Africa where it kills one fifth of the children under the age of five. The team knows the importance of their message. It is life saving.

Your gifts to Malaria Control, UMCOR Advance #982009 support United Methodist efforts like this one to stamp out malaria.