Hasena bundled up her twin two-year-old daughters and "carried them for two days,” across 40 miles, “to the nearest health center, walking as fast as I could…I didn’t know what was wrong with them, they were both very ill…When I was a few hours away from the health center, they both stopped crying. When I arrived, the nurse told me that it was too late to treat their malaria.”
Hasena lives in Kodae, a village of 3,000, in the remote desert region of Afar, Ethiopia. The houses are small and according to cultural norms, males are entitled to the privilege of sleeping in the limited indoor space. Women and children, like Hasena, are forced to sleep outside the structure, putting them at the greatest risk for contracting malaria.
Kodae is one of AMREF’s target areas. A few years ago, AMREF launched an education campaign as part of the Afar malaria prevention and control project that resulted in 300 village health workers trained in malaria diagnosis, treatment, and peer education. The next time one of Hasena’s children fell ill, the outcome was different:
“[When] my 7-year old son Ibrahim caught malaria…I was able to recognize the symptoms, thanks to the information I received from the village health worker. She treated him with anti-malarial drugs and he has now made a complete recovery.”
In a later AMREF outreach initiative, Kodae was one of many villages in Afar that benefited from the distribution of 90,000 mosquito nets. When the nets arrived, local health workers delivered them door-to-door, explaining their function and proper use.
Hasena enthusiastically accepted her two mosquito nets and listened intently to the instructions that followed. The delivery inspired a sense of hope:
“If I stick with this routine, I am confident that none of my children will get malaria again. Now, we are far more hopeful about the future. Armed with our mosquito nets and our knowledge, we hope that we can stop our children dying from this horrible but preventable disease.”