Abel Makungwe, Project Coordinator of the Lutheran Malaria Program in Zambia, provided this snapshot of the impact the malaria program has had in a town called Kashima in Northwest Zambia.
In the community of Kashima, we used to have a high rate of maternal mortality. This was caused because women did not want to attend pre-natal care at the clinic; they would want to go to traditional leaders instead, and use their traditional remedies to heal. But it was discovered that the more they were going to these traditional healers, the more they were dying. Then the Lutheran Malaria Program moved into Kashima. We started working with the Kashima Rural Health Center, working with the women there. We started in the church, and then from the church we rolled it out to the communities and worked with the traditional leaders in the area.
And the maternal mortality at Kashima Rural Health Center has really reduced tremendously—last year, they recorded zero mortality on the maternity [ward]. We have seen this success because of the preventive measure – we call it IPTp, which is Intermittent Presumptive Therapy [for Pregnant women]. This is a program where pregnant women are given three doses of Fansidar as a preventive measure. They get these doses when they are pregnant: three months pregnant, six months, and then as they are going towards the expected delivery date.
Recently there was one family in Kashima that was hit very hard with malaria. They would take their children to the clinic almost every week. And then they resorted to going to traditional healers. One week, one of the kids would be down with malaria. They would take him or her to the traditional healer, and then the following week another child would be sick. When the Lutheran Malaria Program came, we started sensitizing this family, and giving them the education about malaria. We advised them to go to the health facility.
As a family, the whole household was taken to the Kashima Health Center, where they were tested for malaria. And fortunately enough, or unfortunately enough, about five of their household members were positive for malaria. They were put on malaria treatment and they got well. From that day until now, they have not experienced any serious malaria cases in their home. And on the issue of income—they are no longer spending as much money as they used to spend on treatment, and give to these traditional healers. They are healthy now.