During a recent visit to the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR), Ethiopia, Malaria Consortium teams visited the Meja Primary School to hear how our awareness raising project has improved both health seeking behaviour and school attendance.
Schools are a primary target of the integrated community based interventions for malaria services (ICIMS) project which is promoting malaria awareness and improved health seeking behaviour through the introduction of anti-malaria school clubs. Selected schools without electricity, like Meja Primary School, have been provided with solar panels and battery inverter systems to power mini-media kits. These kits, consisting of a cassette stereo, an amplifier, loudspeaker and microphone are used to share key malaria prevention messages throughout the school day and improve health seeking behaviour.
Meja Primary School
Prior to the arrival of the ICIMS project in Meja, few children attended the primary school as many worked with their parents in the fields. Rates of malaria were high and health seeking behaviour was poor, with many unsure about the ways to protect themselves from malaria. Thanks to the ICIMS project, not only has there been an increase in the use of long lasting insecticidal nets, but the availability of electricity at the school, use of music and mini media tools has also contributed to a rapid increase in the number of children enrolling in the school.
Bedru, 17, explained what the arrival of electricity meant for the school and his community:
"Not only is this project reducing rates of malaria, it is boosting school attendance. Now that we have electricity, children want to come to school and even stay after classes to make the most of the electricity and do their homework. Adults in the community have even asked the teachers to stay after school hours to provide classes for them,” said Bedru. These classes provide key skills relating to basic literacy and numeracy, health, agricultural practices and other life skills. Teachers also benefit from the advent of electricity as they are now able to avoid lengthy journeys to the town simply to charge their mobile phones.
Teachers gather in front of Meja Primary School
Malaria represents a significant public health threat in Ethiopia, especially in SNNPR where there has been a lack of malaria awareness and health seeking behaviour. The ICIMS project, funded by the James Percy Foundation, is working to support the Ethiopian health system and improve the lives of the community by boosting awareness of the threat of malaria. This project encourages community dialogue about malaria and its associated risks using school anti-malaria clubs and community roadshows. To read more about Malaria Consortium’s work in Ethiopia, click here.