Promoting world peace – controlling malaria

the United States Peace Corps is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  Volunteers have been working in malaria endemic countries since the beginning of the program. Here we will share a few recent Peace Corps malaria activities. We encourage current and former volunteers to share with us their experiences and lessons learned in controlling malaria.

peacecorps_gov.jpgIn Zambia the Peace Corps has partnered with a local NGO called Youth Activists Organization to bring advocacy messages and educational materials to the community level. Peace Corps Senegal reports that …

Peace Corps Volunteers in all regions of Senegal are leading efforts to prevent malaria, the leading cause of child mortality in Senegal. Volunteers are providing malaria prevention education and have led insecticide treated mosquito bed nets distribution campaigns that have become a model for the rest of Senegal. These efforts are leading to the first large scale universal bed net coverage in the history of Senegal, aiming to significantly reduce malaria caused disease and deaths.

Individual volunteers have written about their experiences, as seen in the following account from Senegal

I worked with three phenomenal community health workers to organize and distribute nets to every family. In the weeks leading up to the distribution, we surveyed all of the families, counting their sleeping areas and numbers of nets in good repair. Working over three days, we traveled house-to-house distributing nets. The chief of Goudel Comi was overcome with gratitude. 

Peace Corps volunteers have even been the subjects in malaria research. One study examined self-reported adverse events associated with long term antimalarial chemoprophylaxis in over 1700 Peace Corps Volunteers. Another study monitored mefloquine resistance in Peace Corps Volunteers.

The Peace Corps even enters into classrooms in U.S. schools from grades K-12 to offer curricular ideas and share experiences from the field. Students can simulate the role of a Peace Corps Volunteer working to prevent the spread of the disease.

The success of malaria control ultimately rests in and with the community. Peace Corps Volunteers are strategically placed to help make sure this happens.

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