Malaria is an Old Story
UNICEF provides support to kill the last parasite in Sabang“Twenty years ago, my village suffered terribly from malaria. Almost all my neighbours had fever and headaches, were vomiting, and sometimes became unconscious. When they went to the Primary Health Centre, they were diagnosed with malaria. It also happened to me. I frequently suffered from malaria. But now the situation is changing. I rarely hear from my neighbours anymore that they are affected by malaria”. Ms Syamani, 50, a grandmother of five and a mother of eight, tells us about the malaria situation in her village.
“I think malaria cases went down due to some interventions provided by the District Health Office (DHO) of Sabang. In fact, my house is sprayed every six months, and I received an insecticide-treated bed net in early 2005 and 2011”.
While she is talking, the sub-village malaria volunteer, Ms Hanum, 27, quickly takes some blood from her finger for malaria screening. Since 2010, with technical and financial assistance from UNICEF, the Government of Sabang has been organizing mass blood screening twice a year, in dry and rainy season in malaria foci sub-villages1.
Also Ms Syamani’s sub-village Ateuh, part of Batee Shok village, is included. “I’ve been informed by my village leader and Ms Hanum, that all residents of my sub-village should take part in this malaria screening. They said this is to search for the malaria parasite in my blood. If health staff finds it, they will give me medicines. Fortunately, during this screening, my blood test was negative for malaria. Yet, I heard that some of my neighbours were diagnosed with malaria through this screening”, adds Ms Syamani.
A list of all residents was established and Ms Hanum, the malaria volunteer, visited them as per a fixed schedule to make sure she nobody was left out. During the visits, some blood is taken from every resident to make a blood smear and dried blood spot on filter paper. Then the malaria volunteer sends these samples to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) for checking completeness and correctness. Following this, PHC staff will send it to the DHO of Sabang for diagnosis and analysis. The dried blood spots will be sent to the Provincial Health Laboratory Office (PHLO) Aceh for molecular identification. DHO will forward the results of the analysis and the diagnosis immediately to the PHC and malaria volunteers, who will inform the residents about the results. If somebody is diagnosed with malaria, malaria volunteers in cooperation with the PHC will provide anti-malaria medication.
“I realize that all interventions delivered by government aim to achieve malaria elimination by 2013. This message is frequently repeated to all residents, and I agree that community participation is highly necessary. Also my family members and I are actively involved in this screening and allow our house to be sprayed. We also sleep under bed nets every night. We don’t suffer from malaria anymore, and we hope government will also give the same attention to other diseases”, says Ms Syamani.