Empowering communities to TAP Malaria
This project aimed to address the poor use of health care services for malaria diagnosis and treatment by pregnant women and young children, which can be caused by poor quality care in health facilities and/or a preference for using traditional healers and pharmacists.
The project worked with traditional healers, pharmacists, and influential women to increase awareness of the importance of testing for malaria by addressing myths and concerns about using health services, to identify danger signs and to refer vulnerable people to health centres.
The traditional healers and influential women then took ownership by volunteering to take on the lead in coordinating health activities (not only for malaria but also for supplementary diseases including Lassa Fever and Coronavirus), and even influencing other traditional healers outside of the project. To complement the work of the traditional healers and influential women in improving malaria prevention and treatment, the project produced a series of public service announcements and radio dramas covering both malaria control and COVID-19 messaging in collaboration with On Our Radar.
Concern Worldwide also facilitated collaboration between the local authorities and community representatives. The village chiefs made a commitment to the implementation of by-laws on environmental sanitation and bed net use. Most villages are now visibly clean with less mosquito breeding sites. There is no longer the misuse of ITN due to the strong involvement of community stakeholders during the Community Health Data Review (CHDR) meetings. Speaking of data, the project revealed a strong community interest in health data, and overall, the confidence of community members, especially project participants, increased in relation to understanding the implications of health data.
Many community members advocated for health information to be displayed in all health facilities, not just the project’s target areas. Peripheral Health Units’ (PHUs) staff and Facility Management Committees (FMCs) adapted ways of working and communication lines to ensure data is accessible and information delivery is meeting the needs of their communities. The project supported the local authorities and community representatives to improve the quality of care provided through improved monitoring, planning and productive problem solving with the health facilities. This led to the communities having a greater awareness of what they should expect from health services in terms of quality and accountability.