Restless Development Sierra Leone
Youth-led action research into adolescents’ malaria, knowledge, attitudes and behaviour
Malaria is endemic in Sierra Leone – the tropical climate with its rainfall patterns, temperature and humidity supports a continuous transmission of malaria all year round, and across all parts of the country. Malaria prevalence is almost two times higher in rural areas and the region of Port Loko, Northern Sierra Leone, had the highest recorded malaria prevalence rate at 58.5% when this project began. For this reason, Restless Development delivered this project in Port Loko.
The project trained young people to research why younger generations do not protect themselves against or seek treatment for malaria.
They identified and tested low cost, sustainable youth-friendly solutions and advocated for appropriate changes within communities and health centres. The researchers were also trained to facilitate community-based events to raise awareness about malaria and to gain community support to encourage young people, particularly unmarried mothers and pregnant teenagers who experience stigma.
One good example of this was school health clubs and public spaces. At the school clubs, talks were delivered, and drama performances were held at markets and other public areas. These gatherings allowed the project to disseminate information on free malaria services to the community.
Community involvement was an important component of the project. Feedback sessions were organised across the 25 project communities. The young researchers used the feedback sessions to further enforce their messaging on malaria prevention and seeking treatment, especially among young people. The feedback sessions helped to open dialogue between the young researchers and the various project communities, including key influencers and local authorities.
Evidence was gathered on attitudes and behaviours surrounding malaria from 2,538 young people.
2,680 residents from the 25 project communities were engaged in feedback sessions, where the young researchers presented their findings.