Children who learn about malaria contribute to disease control in their communities

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Story collected by Dorca Nhaca and edited by Fernando Bambo in November 2017

Fátima Mário, 12 years old, Dinala Muhamudo Aid, 18 years old, Cristina Muanhar, 18 years old, and Carlitos Gabriel Tolembeta, 16 years old, are seventh grade pupils at Undi Primary School. The school is in Chimbonila District, Niassa Province, 30km from the province capital  Lichinga. At school, in addition to learning how to read, write and count, students benefit from educational activities on malaria prevention.

Fátima explains, “Everything we know, we learn at school with our teachers. During the lectures, we pay attention to the teacher’s explanation because in the end she asks us questions and we need to respond. We have learnt many good things. We learnt how to use and take good care of the mosquito net, not to wash the mosquito net in the river, not to accumulate water in the yard, and that when we get malaria we have to go to the hospital.”

In Africa, malaria accounts for up to 50 percent of all school-age deaths. Ensuring that children learn about malaria prevention practices will not only reduce malaria but also contribute to disease control in their communities.

Under the Malaria Prevention and Control Project, implemented in nine of the eleven provinces of Mozambique by a consortium of civil society organisations (2011-2017), one of the innovative interventions was to strengthen malaria education for students in the classroom. Undi Primary School is part of the schools reached by malaria prevention education activities implemented by Malaria Consortium under this project, in Niassa province.

At Undi Primary School, three teachers were trained on basic concepts of malaria, its transmission, signs and symptoms, prevention methods, and importance of early care seeking. In the classroom, teachers conduct interactive educational sessions using a flipchart that contains illustrations, questions and key messages about malaria prevention. Students are expected to share the knowledge they have gained with their families, friends and community.

“When we get home, we talk to our parents, they listen and follow the things we explain to them if they do not know already.” …Everyone likes to use the mosquito net now and last night everyone slept underneath because they know the net serves as protection against mosquito bites and malaria.”, says Carlitos

Helena Samuel, Undi Primary School natural sciences teacher acknowledges the project’s contribution to increasing knowledge about malaria, reducing school absenteeism and drop out.

“It was great to be a part of this project, because I learnt a lot, gained more knowledge about malaria and dispelled many myths that were in my mind. As a natural science teacher I transmit the concepts to the communities. …The project also brought advantages to the school and the students; now we have a low dropout rate because the students are healthier.”

Between 2011 and 2017, Malaria Consortium supported the provincial and district education directorates to train 1,682 teachers in 700 schools in the provinces of Niassa and Nampula reaching approximately 31,289 students on a quarterly basis with key messages on malaria, prevention methods and the importance of care seeking.

Project monitoring data show that school malaria education activities have contributed to increased knowledge of both teachers and students and better adherence to good malaria prevention practices in their homes and communities.

This story is part of a broader project documentation exercise; to read more and other lessons learned, click here.