Over 600 people, mainly women and children, benefited from a formal malaria awareness campaign held at the Logan Town General Market over the weekend under the theme: “Get Tested before Treatment.”
The “Get Tested before Treatment on Malaria” awareness campaign began in Clara Town in December 2013 and was also held in West Point in January-2014.
The outreach is aimed at clarifying that not every fever is malaria; therefore, people must get tested before taking (malaria) treatment. If tested positive, a patient should only take the new globally confirmed malaria tablet called Artemisini-based Combination Therapy (ACT).
The Coordinator of the Private Sector ACT of Mentor Initiative (MI), Madam Julie Pontarollo said the ACT is approved by the World Health Organization and the Liberian Government to treat ‘simple malaria cases.’
According to the Madam Pontarollo, “ACT is sold in private drug (medicine) stores on Bushrod Island. Dispensers, physicians, and nurses, who are assigned in various drug stores have already been trained to administer both the test and treatment to patients.”
She noted that the 4-year pilot project is implemented by Mentor Initiative in partnership with the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare funded by Comic Relief, based in the UK.
Madam Pantarollo revealed the ‘diagnose test’ is L$20 and if positive, the complete dosage for adults is L$35, while it is L$25.00 for children.
She announced that in March the campaign would extend to New Kru Town, the fourth slum community on Bushrod Island.
Commissioner Gooding Carlos, on behalf of the people of Logan Town, thanked the Mentor Initiative and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for the robust awareness campaign aimed at getting people tested before treatment and taking of the new ACT drugs instead of other outdated malaria medicines.
The Commissioner urged her people to get use to sleeping under treated mosquito nets to avoid getting malaria instill of making tearing the nets into bath scrub popularly known as a ‘saphoe’ or siphon.
A Community Health Volunteer (CHV) Billy S. Toe, Jr., said over the years around 40 CHV’s have been helping the Health Ministry to create awareness on malaria from door-to-door, and through focus groups.
The Deputy Director for Community Health Services Division at the Ministry of the Health Ministry, Daniel S.M. Wessih, Jr., praised the Mentor Initiative for the partnership with the
Ministry to tackle malaria in the country and warned community dwellers to against the selling of the freely distributed treated mosquito net.
The experienced health worker also added his voice to those advising the public to get tested before being treated.
One of the participants, Lucy Bartieh, expressed her satisfaction over the cultural performances and a drama that depicted the ‘Get tested before treatment message’ and said the message of the new malaria drug, ACT, beyond her understanding.
“So you mean that now ACT is the best medicine for malaria, I hope it’s not bitter like chloroquine,” she laughed.
However, a cross section of participants who were also present after the program said they understood the message from the campaign and proudly repeated the slogan just taught to them: “I Got Malaria. How Do you know?” “Get tested before treatment!” “Not Every Fever is Malaria!”