Malaria Filling a Deep Need
By Michelle Scott*April 14, 2008—"Nothing is sufficient," says Henrietta Emmanuel who heads up Kissy United Methodist Hospital's malaria program. The need in Sierra Leone is so great, she goes on to explain, that as soon as they receive nets or medicines they are used.
Kissy Hospital and six rural clinics all participate in the Community-Based Malaria Control Program launched by Global Ministries' Health and Welfare unit in 2005. The program educates communities about malaria and provides medicines and nets when they are available.
Malaria is the most prevalent disease at Kissy Hospital and the rural clinics. "You go nowhere without seeing malaria," Emmanuel says expressing the pervasiveness of the illness. Even as she spoke a father and son entered the room in need of malaria medication. Emmanuel signed a form that will allow them to receive medicine at no cost and sent them to the pharmacy-a service that would not be possible without the Malaria Control Program.
Community OutreachEmmanuel travels to schools and villages teaching people about the importance of prevention when it comes to malaria. She has created a series of educational materials to help convey her message. They explain malaria-its causes, symptoms, treatments and preventive measures-in simple easy to understand terms.
At Taiama Clinic, one of the six clinics Kissy Hospital works with throughout Sierra Leone, there are public health posters all over the walls. Many have to do with the prevention and treatment of malaria. They show how much medicine to give a child, what symptoms to look for, and encourage patients to use bed nets. Between 30 and 40 of the 100 patients that come to Taiama each month have malaria.
"It's amazing that a little mosquito can cause such a terrible illness," Emmanuel says. Malaria kills one of five children in Africa. Children under five and pregnant women are particularly susceptible. This is why much of the malaria education is an integral part of the under five and prenatal clinics that take place at Kissy Hospital and many of the clinics like Taiama. When nets are available they are distributed through these programs and are used as an incentive for women to give birth at the hospital or clinic. They will go home with a net to protect their newborn child.
As prevalent as malaria is in Sierra Leone, the efforts of the Community-Based Malaria Control Program are showing some results. Kissy Hospital and the clinic in Manjama are showing a decrease in the number of patients that have malaria. This is all the more reason to redouble the efforts to get the word out about preventing and treating malaria. The program works. It's saving lives.
How You Can HelpThe funding supplied through the Malaria Control Program allows Kissy United Methodist Hospital to provide multi-drug therapies, preventative medications, bed nets and community education without charge.
Through your gifts you can help improve the lives of thousands affected by the scourge of malaria by giving to Malaria Control, UMCOR Advance #982009.
*Scott is the executive secretary for UMCOR communications