The district of Chimbonila in Niassa province has a high malaria burden, which can be difficult to manage for a number of reasons.
The district itself is very large. It is located about 30 km from the city of Lichinga and covers an area of 8,075 km² with a population of about 87,000 inhabitants. Despite its proximity to the capital city, however, Chimbonila has the typical challenges of the other districts of Niassa: poor roads and high poverty rates, as well as a remote, mostly rural population which relies on an economy based on agriculture (population density of 15.8 inhabitants per km²).
Since 2014, the National Malaria Control Programme of the Ministry of Health and its partners (World Vision and Malaria Consortium) with funding from the Global Fund, has been implementing the Malaria Prevention and Control Project within local communities.
The project in Chimbonila District involves 22 community structures, 428 volunteers, 23 schools, 72 teachers, 14 health facilities and one community radio in a continuous effort coordinated by Health, Women and Social District Services to ensure the prevention and treatment of malaria.
Since 2014, Gabriela Nazaré has been the Malaria Consortium Field Officer assigned to this district. Her role is to coordinate the activities of all project stakeholders, ranging from health facilities to community volunteers.
Every day Gabriela visits the villages by motorcycle, ensuring that all project’s participants have the necessary tools for mobilisation work and that they have a correct understanding about how to prevent malaria and that they know what to do in the occurrence of malaria symptoms.
After three years as Field Officer, Gabriela feels integrated in the community: “I was born and raised in Lichinga. I moved to Chimbonila to work and today I feel at home. Despite the complexity of the job, knowing that I am contributing to the improvement of people’s living conditions is rewarding.”
Rain or shine, her activities don’t stop. Owing to the large number of beneficiaries, her schedule is very busy. “I try to spend as much time as possible in each community. My routine in each village is to visit schools, health facilities and work with community structures.
“Over the years we have been establishing work mechanisms and today it is amazing how communities are engaged in the project in such a way that they now bring in their own initiatives and suggestions for new approaches.”
Text and photos: Xavier Machiana