196007 Sierra Leone: Youth and street theater are successful strategies for malaria control

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 1:42 PM

Ibrahim Kamara, CHO, CTCMH, DCMH , Health Program, Plan Sierra Leone, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Ryan Lander, MPH , Field Program Support, Plan International USA, Washington, DC
Luis Tam, MD DrPH , Plan USA, Arlington, VA
Plan International, an international development organization, is implementing a five-year project in Moyamba and Port Loko districts in Sierra Leone in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), a local NGO, and one youth organization in each of the two project districts. The goal of the project (in its second year) is to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality amongst under five children by 30% and amongst pregnant women by 50%. Among the project interventions is to increase the capacity of schoolteachers and youth health clubs to better manage malaria.

Realizing that communities are generally not interested in ordinary awareness raising and that youths are activity members of the communities, the two youth organizations participating in this project formed and trained 170 youth health clubs in the two districts (15 youth per club). Each club mobilizes and facilitates community cleanliness campaigns to prevent mosquito breeding grounds. They also implement street drama shows to sensitize communities on malaria prevention and control. The street drama shows often bring hundreds of people together who listen to the messages and later discuss the drama performances. Finally, participants lively discuss and agree upon action points they will take to prevent and control malaria in their households and communities.

170 youth health clubs (2,550 members in all) are formed and trained, covering 25 chiefdoms in 2 districts. The drama shows have high attendance: 12 street theatres performed in 12 communities reached an average of 6,000 people in 18 months. After the drama shows, at least 50% of the audience knew how malaria is caused and the role of IRS, ITN, IPT, and case management in malaria prevention and control. Initial observations of local government staff noted an increase in the use of ITNs and IPT services, plus an increase in increase in children with fever being brought for diagnostic and treatment of suspected malaria.

Drama shows by youth organizations, followed by lively community discussion and action planning, can significantly increase key practices for malaria prevention and control around among communities.

Learning Objectives:
To demonstrate the feasibility and relevance of street drama shows by youth groups followed by lively discussion and action planning with the audience, to improve key malaria behaviors.

Keywords: Youth, Communicable Disease

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I led the project presented in this abstract
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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