News / Africa

In Kenya, a Community Fights Against Malaria

A mosquito scout samples an abandoned pool in Malindi for mosquito larvae; Pools in empty resort homes become a breeding ground for mosquitos during the rainy seasons
A mosquito scout samples an abandoned pool in Malindi for mosquito larvae; Pools in empty resort homes become a breeding ground for mosquitos during the rainy seasons

Multimedia

Audio
Michael Onyiego

As World Malaria Day was observed worldwide April 25, VOA took a look at Malindi, a city on Kenya’s coast that is fighting malaria through community action.

As the world works to eliminate malaria deaths by 2015, sub-Saharan Africa is still struggling to confront the continent’s number-one killer of children under the age of five years old.

In Malindi, the fight against malaria is a community affair. The city of about 150,000 is on Kenya’s coast, in one of the country’s two hotspots for the disease. For residents of Malindi, malaria not only is a threat to their lives and their children, it is a threat to their livelihoods.

The coastal city is a popular destination for Italian beachgoers, and its economy is based almost entirely on tourism. The threat of losing those tourists is a constant reality for the resorts and restaurants in the region.

Fighting malaria in Kenya is a challenge, with the potent, but controversial, chemical DDT banned by the government. So when members of the Malindi community sought to tackle the problem, they realized they would need to involve the city’s residents.

"There was the malaria," said Kazungu Tuva, chairman of PUMMA, a community organization dedicated to eradicating malaria in Malindi. "It was in a high risk of killing people. Many people were dying, mostly children under five and pregnant mothers. So as the community, we saw there is something we can do to volunteer so that we can assist in fighting malaria. So that we organized the community and we set groups."

PUMMA was founded in 2002 by a coalition of local organizations. The name is short for "Punguza Umbu Sahau Malaria," a Swahili phrase that means "Eradicate Mosquitos, Forget Malaria."

To that end, PUMMA employs a number of Mosquito Scouts - residents who look for mosquito breeding sites in assigned areas throughout Malindi. The Mosquito Scouts work closely with PUMMA and Kenya’s Ministry of Health to report mosquitos and deliver samples for testing.

Riziki Ramadhani, a mother of four who has been a malaria scout for five years, said, "We are doing neighborhood campaigns, we are going to the villages and the school clubs. Sometimes we do door-to-door and sometimes we make a baraza [community gathering]. We are taught the importance of controlling malaria and to sleep under a treated net and to keep the environment in good condition."

The work of the Mosquito Scouts is financed by the Swiss organization Biovision. Each scout is paid about $90 per month for their work. For Ramadhani, being a Mosquito Scout has been an important opportunity for her and her children.

"When we spray, we finish and we collect the adult mosquito then we record them," said  Ramadhani. "The work is fine. I’ve sent my children to schools."

The scouts also have introduced innovative methods for reducing mosquito reproduction. The most effective has been the use of small fish in ponds and pools to eat the larvae of breeding mosquitos. The deputy director of the Kenya Medical Research Institute, Dr. Charles Mbogo, explains how the strategy was developed.

"The idea came from the Mosquito Scouts after scouting for mosquito larvae in the hotel industry," he said. "Most of the hotels industry have these fish and when they sample that all the time there is no mosquito. They were asking us why and we informed them that actually the fish do eat the larvae. So they started introducing them into some of the areas where there were no fish and immediately we started seeing a big decline in the mosquito populations."

The work of PUMMA and the Mosquito Scouts has proven effective in recent years. Data from the Malindi District - which includes the city and its surrounding areas - shows a 20 percent drop in malaria cases reported from 2006 until 2010. But there is still much work to be done. More than 100,000 malaria cases were reported last year, and more than 40,000 were children under 5 years old.

One of the largest challenges is the hundreds of pools sitting behind the gates of Malindi’s resorts and vacation villas. As Mbogo explains, many of the city’s wealthier residents live there for part of the year, leaving behind large empty pools which become breeding grounds during the rainy seasons.

"It’s a big problem. We have what we call the abandoned swimming pools. That means nobody lives there. Now they have been left with water there and the mosquitos breed there. So we need to do something about that," said Mbogo.

There are more than 400 private cottages and villas owned by part-time residents of Malindi. PUMMA has begun to reach out to these residents, who are slowly beginning to take part in the group’s efforts. While PUMMA and the Mosquito Scouts have access to some vacation homes and resorts for testing and mosquito reduction, many more remain locked for much of the year.

But PUMMA is not giving up. On April 9, Malindi celebrated its eighth annual Mosquito Day. Local students, non-governmental organizations, health officials and Mosquito Scouts marched through the city singing songs and encouraging the community to take part in the fight against malaria.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid