Malaria hardly gives the people of Group Village Head (GVH) Kalupsa in Traditional Authority Chekucheku in Neno a space to breathe.
Neno District Malaria Coordinator Brazilio Mose estimates that nearly 65 percent of the people in his village contract the disease per month.
He discloses that the disease is so prevalent in the district and it has, in some instances, led to the disruption of teaching and learning.
“Teaching becomes impossible when teachers and learners fall sick to malaria at the same time,” narrates Mose.
Thirteen-year-old Rozaline Limula is a Standard Eight learner at Kaponda Full Primary School.
Rozaline has contracted malaria not once, but twice within the past three months.
“I began vomiting and couldn’t attend the full day of school,” Rozaline, whose favorite subject is mathematics, explains.
Rozaline says although her body was weak, feeling cold and shaky, she hid her illness from her parents at first.
Eventually, she fell so ill that she could not hide it anymore. She could not walk to school.
This worried her parents. Her mother, Annie Kaluma, took Neno District Hospital where she was diagnosed with malaria and was admitted for four days.
The ordeal prompted Rozaline to join the campaign, which Parent and Child Health Initiative (PACHI) with support from UNICEF, is championing to eliminate malaria in the district.
She has begun with her own village and school where, using malaria comic books UNICEF and PACHI donated, the girl is now teaching her fellow learners on how they can prevent the spread of the disease in their localities.
Fatima Banda, the School Health Nutrition (SHEN) teacher at Kaponda Full Primary School, trained her on how to use the comic books to teach her peers on malaria fight.
Thus, every Friday from 2pm to 3 pm, Rosaline and her best friend Chifundo joins other peers in malaria education.
“With such knowledge on to contain malaria, I feel I am now in control of my future. I am thankful that my teacher who taught me a lot of malaria information through Chimwemwe Malaria Comic booklet that am using to teach my friends at school and at home because I don’t want them to get sick like I did,” she narrates.
“It means a lot to my teacher because she is still teaching me on malaria issues every Monday and Friday at school assembly and during our SHN club meetings on Friday afternoon,” adds Rozaline.
Blessing Limula, her brother, thanks Rozaline’s sister for the enlightening him on malaria issues.
Limula says he now has adequate knowledge on how to control and prevent malaria and I will help my sister with the initiative.
“I will not allow people in Chirombo 2 village to get sick of preventable disease like malaria,” he vows.
Lumula and Rozaline’s best friend, Chifundo, are now fully involved in the Anti-Malaria Campaign, which has reached over 87 over the past three months with messages on how to prevent and control malaria using treated mosquito and cleaning the environments.
Member of Parliament for Neno North Thoko Tembo has since donated insecticide treated nets (ITNs) to 16 girls and 12 boys, including Chifundo, Lumula, and Rosaline, which they have hung in their bedrooms.
“If I could give one gift to every child, it would be a mosquito net so that no one else has to get sick,” muses Rozaline.
PACHI project officer, Russel Msiska, says the overall objective the project is to reduce malaria associated mortality and morbidity by 50 percent.
On the other hand, the project envisages to achieve increased community awareness and knowledge on malaria prevention, treatment and case management through promotion of correct and consistent use and treatment of ITNs.
“Additionally, we want to achieve increased access to Intermittent Preventive Treatment and build the capacity of businesspeople, religious leaders and local governance structures in malaria management,” says Msiska.