Fernando Bambo, Communications and Advocacy Coordinator for Malaria Consortium Mozambique, visited Lindela to speak to community members there about health, malaria and the impact of Malaria Consortium’s work in the area.
Esperança Watemane, 75 years old, greeted me with her daughter Amélia Jaime Chissico outside their home in Lindela, a community in the province of Inhambane, central Mozambique. Their home is surrounded by coconut, mafurreira and orange trees, all characteristic of a manyembane’s backyard.
Manyembane is the name commonly given to people from the province of Inhambane. Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama famously called the province “the land of the Good People”, a reference to the warm welcome that he and his fellow navigators received when they first landed in the area and the hospitality of the people there who invited them into their homes, saying “Bhlelani ku nyumbane” or “Come on inside”.
“Bhela ku nyumbane! Come on inside!”
The two women were eager to invite me into their home too. They wanted to show me the mosquito net (long lasting insecticide treated net or LLIN) that they had hung up inside. The mosquito net protects the women from malaria-transmitting mosquitoes that bite during the night. Malaria is highly endemic in the area and in 2010 there were over 4.5 million suspected cases of the disease in the country.
As well as nets, the women explain that the community now has easy access to a trained health worker, Mrs Arnalda, who is based in the community and provides care for under-fives.
“In the past,” Esperança explained, “if a person was suspected to have malaria, we would use boiled roots and try to expel the bad spirits.”
Now, children suffering from fever or other symptoms are taken to see Mrs Arnalda, whose health station, a small building where she receives visits from community members, is just 50 metres from Esperança and Amelia’s home.
The women explain that Mrs Arnalda is a great support to the community. She has been trained in primary health care, including in how to diagnose malaria using rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and how to treat non-severe malaria. She treats children both at her health station and in their family homes. If the disease is really severe, Mrs Arnalda refers the child to the nearest Health Centre in Jangamo and, if necessary, accompanies them there.
Malaria Consortium Mozambique
In Inhambane province, Malaria Consortium has provided training for Ministry of Health staff to train community health workers (CHWs) in an approach called integrated community case management (ICCM) for under-five year olds. That means that they are trained to diagnose, treat and refer three of the most common, and dangerous, illnesses affecting children in sub-Saharan Africa: diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.
The CHWs provide access to health care in communities with limited or no access to health facilities. In Lindela, for example, the local health facility at Jangamo is approximately 20km away.
As well as the training of CHW trainers, Malaria Consortium provides on-going technical support for ICCM through the health authority in the district. That includes technical input into training tools, the implementation of an ICCM database for the district and refresher training tfor both health workers and their supervisors in critical skills, such as monitoring and reporting the use of drugs. In five out of the seven districts across the Inhambane province, Malaria Consortium is also supplying CHWs with the necessary equipment to perform their duties, including diagnosis equipment, essential medicines in paediatric formula, and bicycles for the CHWs to reach more rural areas.
Malaria Consortium’s work in Inhambane province is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Planet Wheeler Foundation and UKAid from the UK Department for International Development.
Written by Fernando Bambo, Communications and Advocacy Coordinator, Malaria Consortium Mozambique