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PMI: Presidents Malaria Initiative - Saving lives in Africa.

The Multiplier Effect of School-Based Malaria Prevention Activities

In Ethiopia, unlike other sub-Saharan African countries, the overall risk of malaria is quite low. However, because the transmission pattern of the disease is unstable, immunity is also low and the entire population is at risk of severe disease – not just pregnant women and children. As a result, to prevent and control malaria, the Government of Ethiopia has been scaling up proven interventions, such as insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) of households with insecticide as well as malarial diagnosis and treatment at the community level. The government is also focusing on their people’s knowledge and attitude about malaria transmission and how to protect one's families, which remains low.

Abduselam, who participates in his school’s anti-malaria club, teaches his family how to prevent malaria.
Abduselam, who participates in his school’s anti-malaria club, teaches his family how to prevent malaria.
Credit: Fayyaa Integrated Development Organization

Through its implementing partner Fayyaa Integrated Development Organization (FIDO), the President's Malaria Initiative has been working with the Government to implement a comprehensive package of community-level education and behavior change activities in Oromia Regional State. These activities are being implemented in close collaboration with religious leaders, health extension workers, volunteer community workers, and students to spread messages about the importance of carrying out four doable malaria actions:

  • Sleeping under an ITN every night
  • Visiting health facilities within 24 hours when a fever is present
  • Completing the antimalaria drug treatment if diagnosed with malaria
  • Accepting operational program personnel into houses for IRS with insecticides

Since the start of its project, FIDO has trained students and established antimalaria clubs in different primary and secondary schools. To deliver messages about the four doable actions to families and neighbors, the students conduct peer-to-peer education and put on drama programs.

One of these trained students is Abduselam Aba Oli, a 17-year-old student at Sokoru high school in Jimma zone. As a member of his school's anti-malaria club, Abduselam has been trained by FIDO on malaria prevention and control. He is now working to create awareness and to change the behavior of his family and neighbors. "I am lucky," he says, "to have been selected and trained on malaria and how to prevent and control the disease. People in my village used to believe that one cannot prevent malaria without the help of traditional healers. But now most people know that malaria could be prevented by applying the four doable malaria actions. This change encouraged me to continue spreading malaria messages to other people every opportunity I have. Now, not only am I, but my parents are also, actively engaged in community education and encouraging families to use bed nets and seek early treatment."