Wednesday, June 19, 2013

UNICEF-supported community volunteer training and prevention activities help control malaria in high risk areas

© UNICEF Myanmar/2011/Thet Wai Hlaing
Lwe Zar Thin working on her malaria prevention plan

By Dr. Thet Wai Hlaing

Kyaikhto Township, Mon State, Myanmar, 19 June 2013: Lwe Zar Thin, 45, is one of the health volunteers who received five-day intensive training on prevention and treatment of malaria in Thit Seint Kone village, which used be to a malaria high risk area in Mon State.

Lwe Zar Thin is a mother of two children, has long experience as an auxiliary midwife since 1989. She lives and works in the Thit Seint Kone village, with 58 households and 287 villagers. The village was infamous in Mon state for its high prevalence, high risk malaria status with an 1a ranking according to malaria micro-stratification.
She is happy that her work is contributing to fighting and reducing malaria deaths and malaria risk status in her village has improved from high to low. Malaria micro-stratification report 2013 declares Thit Seint Kone village as a malaria death free village.

“I had a five-day community volunteer training on how to prevent and treat malaria; I also received three days’ refresher training course three months later,” Lwe Zar Thin said.
Following the training, in October 2011, she committed to work as a volunteer to fight against malaria in her community. Now there are 25 malaria volunteers working in the village.

“All 25 volunteers from Thit Seint Kone village joined this five day training, which gave them a grasp of effectively prevention of malaria outbreak in high risk areas,” said Dr. Thet Wai Hlaing, Regional Programme Officer from UNICEF office in Mawlamyaing, the capital of Mon State.
Majority of villagers are living on rubber plantation, or in growing ground nut, sesame and paddy. Some work in the Myawaddy Trading Zone along Myanmar-Thai border or in the gold mines in the nearby areas. 
Midwives make monthly supervisory visits to support trained volunteers. Township and state level officials also make quarterly visits to the villages to monitor, support and improve malaria prevention activities as necessarily.
Every febrile case from her village consults Lwe Zar, and she helps them get malaria test and appropriate treatment.  On an average she handles 10 to15 malaria patients every month. “We are use rapid diagnostic test kits and anti-malaria drugs,” said Lwe Zar Thin.
Every month she finds at least one to three malaria parasite cases from those who are working in the gold mines and migrant workers working along Thai-Myanmar border. “Fortunately, the number of malaria cases in my village is dropping,” added Lwe Zar, “In spite of my years of experience as auxiliary midwife, I gained knowledge and confidence in dealing with malaria patients after receiving the UNICEF-supported intensive training and having worked as a malaria volunteer.”
She feels that people in her village rely on her and appreciate her help. This job is not for generating a big income, but she feels much passionate for the work she is doing.
Malaria is one of the four major diseases responsible for under-5 child mortality in Myanmar. Some 284 out of 330 townships in Myanmar are malaria endemic and about 60 per cent of malaria cases are reported from forest areas.

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