PIRCOM (Programa Inter Religioso Contra a Malaria)
Malaria Free Communities
Malaria accounts for 29% of all deaths in Mozambique. Children, pregnant women, and people living in rural areas are most affected. Some people don’t fully understand or believe that malaria can be prevented and treated if help is sought early enough.
The project challenged attitudes and beliefs that act as barriers to taking action to prevent and treat malaria. To improve the use of effective malaria prevention and treatment methods, especially amongst pregnant women and children under five, PIRCOM trained and supported health committees, community leaders and volunteers to share action messages on malaria prevention and treatment through home visits, church meetings and media platforms.
The project also involved strengthening the links between the communities and the health services in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of malaria.
This involved training health volunteers to conduct Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTS) in cases of suspected malaria and to make appropriate referrals and establishing sentinel posts in health facilities to improve the data collection and information sharing on malaria.
Significant progress was made to mobilise communities to adopt preventive measures and access malaria treatment opportunities. The dedication and commitment of the health volunteers was a key driving force for this, and the results from the final line survey report showed that there had been great progress in terms of the knowledge and role of the community leadership in fighting against malaria. The sentinel posts' referral and counter-referral system in the health units strengthened the links between communities and health institutions, and contributed to improving the collection, recording and analysis of data on malaria.
Getting the training right
PIRCOM learned that voluntary health training should include other skills that allow you to deal with various health situations encountered in the community, such as identifying seriously ill patients, reporting, referring and monitoring patient medications in the families visited.
Engaging community members as channels of communication
As they are the most appropriate channels for the dissemination of health messages, especially on malaria prevention.
Using a combination of different communication channels
Such as lectures / debates, sermons in places of worship, community meetings, home visits and radio broadcasts can allow for greater coverage and consolidation of messages about malaria.
In 2017, only 26.6% said they used the nets in their daily lives. This changed to 95% in 2019.
Between 2017 and 2019, the percentage of respondents who reported hearing information and messages about malaria increased from 66.7% to 90.1%.
In 2017, community leaders had a low level of knowledge about their responsibilities in fighting against malaria. Of the total respondents, only 17.9% knew of their responsibilities. This increased to 52.5% by 2019.