Breakthrough in Malaria Prevention

Dec 2015
Abrham Nigussie uses a bed net and other malaria prevention actions as a result of this intervention.

Malaria Prevention at Zara-Michael Church

Zara-Michael, a religious institution located in Dera woreda in the South Gondar zone of the Amhara Region of Ethiopia, struggled to keep its 300 students from falling ill with malaria. Many students arrived from their hometowns with parasites in their bodies. Furthermore, the church is situated in a swampy area, which is prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. Bed nets had been unheard of at Zara-Michael, where there was a general lack of awareness about malaria prevention.

To address the issue, a PMI-funded social and behavioral change communication project trained religious-institution leaders to be messengers of key malaria action messages. Disseminating these messages during Sunday and holiday church services, these religious leaders have been able to use their influence to teach key malaria prevention steps to their community and to their students on weekly basis.

As the students became more aware of malaria prevention steps, they actively requested bed nets from the church leaders. In cooperation with the area’s health institution, 300 bed nets were secured for the students. Currently, all 300 students residing at Zara-Michael Church are using bed nets every night. As a result of these efforts, malaria cases among the students and the community are now nearly nonexistent. 

Abrham Nigussie, a 20-year-old student from Arsi Region, is attending his kine (advanced level religious education) at the church. He says, “I used to constantly be sick with malaria. After our religious teacher told us the steps for prevention, I decided to use a bed net every night to stop getting mosquito bites. Ever since I started, I haven’t been attacked by mosquitos." Abrham further explains, "Now all my friends who live at home hang their nets over their beds, too.” As a result, "No one is getting sick from malaria." 

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