‘When your fear touches someone’s pain, it becomes pity. When your love touches someone’s pain, it becomes compassion.’
- Stephen Levine
The KMO Project overview
VPWA has created an annual month-long, volunteer driven awareness campaign to help reduce malaria. The campaign is called Kick Malaria Out (KMO).
The campaign aims to raise awareness on:
- the rate at which malaria is killing the West African population, especially children and pregnant women
- measures to prevent and eradicate, if not minimise, malaria within the community, with a special emphasis on educating the population on the need to avoid creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes and the benefits of aerial spraying in Africa using efficient technology adopted by Palm Beach County in Florida-USA.
The first KMO campaign ran from October 20 until November 18 2009. Outreach work was done in five regions of Ghana and was conducted by a team of volunteers from all over the world.
Volunteers for the KMO campaign have come from a range of backgrounds, from medical professionals to students, teachers and communication experts. Volunteers are divided into groups with a team leader assigned for each group of volunteers.
As part of the campaign, our volunteers:
- conduct community workshops on malaria and provided information and educational material on the spread of malaria and preventative measures to avoid infection.
- conduct 'clean-up' training exercises which are designed to show communities how to prevent and clear water stagnation, a key breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Volunteers also used the media including the TV, radio and print to help promote the awareness campaign.
Why is this project important?
- Each year there are approximately 515million cases of malaria worldwide
- Over one million people die from malaria each year, most of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa
- In sub Saharan Africa there is high malaria transmission with over 2700 deaths per day, or 2 deaths per minute
- Malaria is one of the highest cause of death in children in sub-Saharan Africa
- Malaria is a cause widespread poverty in Africa. It causes the loss of almost 2% of economic growth - in 15 years this is a 20% reduction in GNP. If we can fight mosquitoes (the cause of Malaria), Africa’s development will be accelerated and family incomes will rise.
- "Malaria is hurting the living standards of Africans today and is also preventing the improvement of living standards for future generations," said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the World Health Organization. "This is an unnecessary and preventable handicap on the continent's economic development." According to statistical estimates in 2000 , sub-Saharan Africa's GDP would have been up to 32% greater that year if malaria had been eliminated 35 years ago. This would represent over $100 billion added to sub-Saharan Africa's current GDP of $300 billion. This extra $100 billion would be, by comparison,nearly five times greater than all development aid provided to Africa the year before.
Small steps to minimise the spread of malaria
Unless breeding sites (most of which are created by man) are taken care of, it is impossible to control mosquito breeding and mosquito-borne diseases. Therefore it is impossible to reduce the spread of malaria without the participation of the general public. Educating people about prevention is of paramount importance.
These small steps can hep minimise mosquito breeding...
- Do not leave utensils, vessels, buckets, tyres, bottles, tender coconut shells etc out in the open. They should be either destroyed, buried, or at least kept inverted so that water cannot collect in them. This is particularly important during the rainy season.
- All water tanks should be kept tightly closed. A black plastic sheet can be used for the purpose. Also, all tanks should be emptied, cleaned and allowed to dry for at least half an hour, once every week.
- Terraces and roofs should ideally have a slope, particularly in places where the monsoon tends to be heavy. All such roofs and terraces should have adequate drainage for water. Any collection of water on these surfaces should be cleared at least once a week.
- At construction sites, care should be taken to avoid the collection of water at any one place for more than a week. The layer of water on the surface of concrete, used for concrete curing, should be cleared at least once a week and allowed to dry for half an hour. All puddles should be cleared regularly. Collections of water in the toilets and closets under construction should also be cleared. All tanks should be kept tightly closed.
- All unused wells and tanks should be closed or destroyed. Engine oil or kerosene has been used as a larvicidal on these collections. Another method to prevent egg laying on unused wells is by adding EPS polystyrene beads onto the surface of water. These beads are non-toxic, cheap and long lasting. They coat the water surface and prevent the mosquito from laying eggs.
- Wells in use and ornamental tanks can be treated with biological larvicides that do not harm the quality of drinking water. These wells should also be covered with either mosquito-proof nets or with plastic sheets.
What is Malaria?
Malaria has been known to mankind since millennia and it is likely that human malaria evolved as mankind did. Today malaria affects more than 2400million people, over 40% of the world's population, in more than 100 countries in the tropics.
Malaria is caused by the parasite called Plasmodia. There are four identified species of this parasite causing human malaria, namely, Plasmodium vivax, P. falciparum, P. ovale and P. malariae. Plasmodium falciparum is more common in sub Saharan Africa and Melanesia (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands); Plasmodium vivax in Central and South America, India, N. Africa and Middle East; Plasmodium ovale in Western Africa and Plasmodium malariae is sporadic worldwide.
Malaria is transmitted by the bite of the female anopheles mosquito.
The symptoms of malaria appear 7-15 days after an infected bite being received. Typical malarial illness is characterised by shaking chills, followed by high fever and sweating (Cold stage, Hot stage and Sweating stage), usually occurring during mid-day. This recurs in 48-72 hour cycles. But many patients may have atypical illness characterised by atypical fever, head ache and body ache, weakness, prostration, easy fatiguability, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough etc. In some cases patients can develop breathlessness, chest pain, abdominal pain, altered behaviour, altered sensorium, convulsions, coma etc.
Diagnosis of malaria is confirmed by examination of the blood for malarial parasite, either by a peripheral smear examination or the new QBC fluorescent technique. Now, non-microscopic rapid tests are also available.
Chloroquine is the most widely used drug for treating P. vivax malaria. With wide spread resistance to chloroquine in P. falciparum malaria, combinations of drugs like artimisinin derivatives, sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine, doxycycline, lumefantrine, atovaquone and proguanil etc., are being used for the treatment of P. falciparum infection.