Learning the rules of the game is an important first step in training for any competition; it’s critical when human lives are on the line. That’s why UAM encourages its partners to educate their constituents about the dangers of malaria and the methods of prevention and treatment as a critical first step in their malaria control programs. After all, the more partners know about malaria, the better they can protect themselves against this combatable disease.
With proven training tools and resources, organizations can provide authoritative information about how malaria is contracted, what effects it has on the body, and which methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment are available and most effective. Likewise, health experts can clear up common misperceptions about malaria and promote the consistent use of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs). Mere access to nets is not enough.
To illustrate this point, studies across sub-Saharan Africa have found that within households possessing at least one insecticide-treated net, only 55 percent of children under the age of five were found to have slept under a net the previous night (Eisele 2009). Such disparity between access and use demonstrates the important need for behavior change communication. In this case, researchers identified the reasons why people chose not to use the nets––excessive heat, inadequate knowledge about malaria transmission, and a lack of string or manpower to properly hang the net, to name a few. Then they conveyed these messages to national malaria control programs and worked toward finding solutions.
In every community, certain messages can help shape an effective strategy—messages about malaria transmission, the barriers to net use and the challenges related to getting quick and proper treatment. Community leaders, employers, and other organizational leaders can share these messages in myriad ways. The greater challenge is conveying these messages in a way that turns knowledge into action.
In the workplace, effective channels may include educational sessions, where trained health professionals answer questions about malaria at regular staff meetings. Or they may include in-house magazines, newsletters, intranet sites, or break-room bulletin boards and posters. Some UAM partners have taken this approach to the next level by hosting themed luncheons or company-wide celebrations that reward employees for hanging and using LLINs in their homes. These celebrations emphasize the importance of proper malaria control as the means to a healthy and happy lifestyle rather than focus on the adverse effects of malaria. Advertising, product packaging, and media provide additional opportunities to educate constituents. Whatever the channel, UAM partners should tailor messages to address local challenges associated with malaria control. Local health workers and community-based organizations are ideal sources for this information.
- Organize informational meetings about malaria that coincide with staff meetings.
- Host question-and-answer sessions with trained health professionals to correct misconceptions about malaria.
- Dedicate an institution-wide celebration to malaria, host a themed luncheon, or stage a contest that rewards members for hanging and using long-lasting insecticide-treated nets in their homes.
- Use in-house magazines, newsletters, and breakroom bulletin boards to educate members about proper prevention and treatment.
- Attach informational leaflets to pay stubs or new member orientation packets.
- Feature malaria educational materials, quizzes and training tools on your company health portal or intranet.
- Recruit local health workers to train company staff, and discuss local malaria-related problems.
- Educate children by distributing coloring books, games and music that teach about malaria.
- Educate customers by putting malaria messaging on receipts, bills, scratch cards, and other products.
- Sponsor malaria-themed public service announcements, radio programs, or song contests to educate community members.