Monday, April 25, 2011

World Malaria Day 2011 and the Nuru Healthcare Worker Model

The video above chronicles the beginnings of the Nuru International Community Health Worker(CHW) Model--which is currently doing amazing work in Kuria, Kenya. Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see how the model works first hand by traveling with a Nuru Healthcare Field Officer.

During the months of March and April, a big focus for Nuru's CHW program has been Malaria. Malaria is a preventable ailment that takes the lives of 2,300 people daily around the globe. Sixteen percent of children under five in Africa die because of malaria. Imagine dying from a mosquito bite. When I was a little boy, my body would be covered with welts from mosquitos, and even as an adult, no-see-ums love to attack me. Had I been born in a different longitude and latitude, I would probably not be alive to write this blog post. At least not unless someone had educated my family with regard to malaria prevention.

And that's just what the Nuru CHW's have been doing in villages all through Kuria, Kenya. They visit people's homes and talk to them about what causes malaria, what the symptoms of malaria are, and how malaria can be treated. More importantly, during this time, they talk about how malaria can be prevented.

That's the good news, malaria can be prevented. With proper use of a bed net, malaria risk is significantly lowered. While everyone can benefit from this knowledge, the groups at highest risk are children under five and pregnant mothers, and so Nuru is working specifically to help these at risk populations. As CHWs travel from house to house, they not only talk about the benefits of bed nets for malaria prevention, but they also sell bed nets at a low cost to families. This assigns a value to the net, and it also saves a family the challenge of traveling to a town or medical center to purchase this low cost malaria intervention. The health workers also walk through how to properly use a bed net and even how to repair a net if it becomes torn. If someone doesn't know how to use or repair a tool then it will do them very little good.

Nuru's focus on prevention through a CHW model via sales of bednets as an intervention, particularly for pregnant mothers and children under five sets the organization in a unique category for stemming the tide against malaria.

As I write this post, I find myself reflecting back on my childhood, and the mosquito bites that would appear on my arms on summer nights, and I am thankful that families in Kuria, Kenya, are now equipped with the tools to prevent malaria.

Will you help Nuru continue to empower even more families with tools and knowledge to prevent malaria and so much more? Also, if you'd like to learn more about our CHW program and our work to fight malaria, check out this great article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Thanks for being part of lasting change for the people of Kuria, Kenya.

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