A friend of the ELCA Malaria Campaign spent last year working in Uganda, and she sent us these posters. Posters such as these are used as teaching tools in many countries, to help health workers teach communities about malaria prevention and treatment.
In rural African situations where computers and even electricity are scarce, this is a good, low-tech alternative to a PowerPoint presentation!
These posters are very visual and colorful, to hold the attention of the audience.
The first page stresses the importance of completing a dose of malaria medication. In the US, we often talk about the importance of completing a course of antibiotics, so that even the stronger bacteria are killed off. In a similar way, when a person is suffering from malaria, it is important for them to take all of the malaria medication, so that all of the parasites in their system are cleared out.
It’s also important to treat the symptoms, because high fevers can be dangerous. When a person has malaria, they should be kept as cool and comfortable as possible before being taken to the nearest clinic.
The second page of the presentation emphasizes techniques for malaria prevention. For example, long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets are one great way to prevent malaria. Since mosquitoes are most active at night, and sleeping people are most vulnerable, these nets should be used to cover beds during the night.
Because mosquitoes breed in areas of standing water, it’s important to drain puddles and clean up areas of brush outside homes. This is one simple way to prevent mosquitoes from multiplying in a community.
Women who are pregnant can seek a special kind of treatment called IPTp– Intermittent Preventative Therapy for Pregnant Women. ELCA Malaria Campaign funds are making this special treatment available to more women. With the treatment, women are more likely to have healthy babies who are free from the side effects of malaria during pregnancy.
And one more great way to prevent malaria — people who are fortunate enough to have homes with windows should close the windows at night to keep the mosquitoes out.
The third page of the presentation illustrates the primary symptoms of malaria. A high fever and chills, of course, are the tell-tale symptoms of malaria. The high fever occurs when malaria parasites enter the bloodstream and the body begins to defend itself.
Other symptoms of malaria should not be ignored. These additional symptoms include aches all over the body, especially headaches, loss of appetite, and gastrointestinal complications such as vomiting and diarrhea.
When someone experiences these symptoms, it is time to test for malaria. Testing for malaria takes place at a clinic, so it is crucial to this step of the malaria treatment process that there are enough clinics to serve a geographical area, and enough health care workers who are trained to administer Rapid Diagnostic Tests for malaria.
Many rural people have to travel to the clinic on foot. The lucky ones may have a bicycle or an ox-drawn cart to help with the trip.
The last page of the presentation explains the risks that are involved when malaria progresses from a primary infection to a more serious infection. This is the point at which malaria becomes a lethal killer.
If malaria treatment is not administered to an infected individual in time, the body can start to undergo convulsions. Prolonged attacks on the body’s red blood cells result in anemia. When the infection progresses to cerebral malaria, it can cause brain damage, and the patient is likely to die.
800,000 times every year, malaria gets this far.
These posters–and the education programs sponsored by the ELCA Malaria Campaign–seek to raise awareness of this silent killer, and to encourage those suffering from symptoms to seek treatment immediately, which increases their chance of surviving a bout with malaria.
Coupled with our efforts to equip clinics with adequate supplies of medication and diagnostic equipment, these educational efforts will save lives!