PlayStop MSF Treating Malaria in the Heart of the Village
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MSF Treating Malaria in the Heart of the Village

Kanda Koné is not feeling well today. He was sick this morning and now has a fever.  He sits very quietly. He is waiting to see the village malaria worker in the village square at Deguela, in the Kangaba region of southern Mali. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

Fatoumata Traoré sees patients here every day. She is one of 66 MSF-trained village malaria workers in this region. She checks every child in Deguela with a fever for malaria and treats simple cases of the disease free of charge. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

In the rainy season the streets and paths become flooded and many people in this area become effectively trapped in their villages and cannot access medical care in the health centres. Unfortunately this is the season when the mosquitoes that transmit the malaria parasites are most active. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

Because the village malaria workers treat children directly in their own villages, malaria patients are more easily identified and sick patients find help immediately. An untreated case of malaria in a child can lead to a coma and ultimately prove fatal within two days, sometimes even in a few hours. Today, Kanda is the first patient to be seen. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

Five-year-old Kadijatou is feeling feverish too. She cries as she awaits her turn. Like Kanda and many other children in Deguela, she has suffered from malaria a few times already this year. Malaria is the most common disease in children under five in Mali, and the most frequent cause of death for children in this age group. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

When Fatoumata pricks her finger, Kadijatou cries out in protest. But the worst is now over. Using the Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT), just one drop of blood is sufficient to test for malaria. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

Fifteen minutes later, the result is in. The two red lines indicate that Kadijatou has malaria. Kanda's test is also positive. But because the children were able to access treatment immediately, their chances of a quick recovery are good. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

MSF uses the artemisinin based combination therapy (or ACT). These pills are the proven most effective medicine to treat malaria, killing off all infection and preventing future resistance. One ACT pill a day on three consecutive days: that is all that is needed to treat simple cases of malaria. Fatoumata gives the children their first dose straight away.  [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

When a child has symptoms of severe malaria, or is suffering from another illness, the village malaria workers send the patient to the nearest health centre. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supports 11 health centres in the region, making sure that medical care is free for children under five and for pregnant women who have a fever. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

This is also where children are immunised against measles and pregnant women are seen for ante-natal consultations. The usual symptoms of malaria are less pronounced in pregnancy. This is dangerous because an undetected, untreated case of malaria can lead to miscarriage or severely harm the baby. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

During ante-natal consultations, MSF checks all women for malaria, treats the women if they test positive, and provides those with a negative test result with preventive treatment against the disease.[MSF/Barbara Sigge]

In Mali, access to health care is limited as the national system is based on financial participation of the patient. Yet, the majority of the population lives in poverty. MSF ensures that the group most vulnerable to malaria – children under 5 – receive free medical treatment, not only for malaria but also other diseases. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

Health promotion is another important part of the fight against malaria in southern Mali. Madinata Maiga and fifteen other health promoters work for MSF in the region. They travel around and talk to people about malaria. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

Today, Madinata is visiting a school in Kangaba. The pupils know a lot about malaria and they actively take part in a discussion on ways to protect themselves and their families from the disease. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

'We distribute bed nets that are treated with insecticide. People sleep under them and so do not get bitten at night. But the mosquitoes are active in the evening as well', says Madinata Maiga.

This is a problem, because village life takes place outside for the most part with children playing in the fields, and families sitting, eating and chatting together around their homes long after dusk. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

Every year, nearly one million people worldwide still die from malaria – despite the fact that there are simple tools to prevent, diagnose and treat this disease.  In countries like Mali where malaria is endemic, MSF strongly encourages other actors to scale up the use of bednets, rapid diagnostic tests, and ACTs. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

In Kangaba, deaths of children due to malaria have decreased dramatically since MSF started working here using these simple yet highly effective tools. Thanks to their MSF trained village malaria worker, the children in Deguela are tested with RDTs, and treated with ACTs. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

Kadijatou is much happier. 'I like playing with my friends, drawing and learning to count. But I don't like singing. And I don't like being sick', she says. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]

And Kanda, too is recovered. He proudly presents his favourite toy, an old bicycle wheel that he pretends is his motorbike. The malaria pills tasted bitter he thought. But he knows that taking them has made him feel better.  'When I am big, I want a real motorbike', he laughs - and runs off to play with his friends. [MSF/Barbara Sigge]



MSF Treating Malaria in the Heart of the Village