SFH determined to wipe malaria out of Bugesera

Jean Claude Hakuzimana, 20,  and his four siblings became constant victims of a strange fever. On several occasions, they got hit by abnormally high body temperatures coupled with general body weakness, and would get  confined at home for days.
Besides distributing mosquito nets, SFH organises awareness programmes for the citizens. The New Times/ Courtesy.
Besides distributing mosquito nets, SFH organises awareness programmes for the citizens. The New Times/ Courtesy.

Jean Claude Hakuzimana, 20,  and his four siblings became constant victims of a strange fever. On several occasions, they got hit by abnormally high body temperatures coupled with general body weakness, and would get  confined at home for days.

Poverty hit harder, since their mother was the family head, doing odd jobs on people’s farms; she could not raise enough income for the family.

School authorities threatened to discontinue them for persistent absenteeism, as  they were too weak to attend.

“The likely-hood of  death  filled me with deep sorrow. I just couldn’t imagine leaving behind all my childhood and school friends,” Hakuzimana  says.

However, he noticed that people in the neighbor hood were suffering a similar fate too, and got some consolation that at least it wasn’t a curse reserved for his family alone.

SFH comes in the picture

It was not until Society For Family Health (SFH) extended a malaria awareness campaign at their school; Groupe Scolaire, Kamabuye, in Mayange Sector, Bugesera District in Eastern Province,  that Hakuzimana learnt that their ailment is called malaria and that its spread  by an insect called “mosquito.”

He said they were urged to sleep under mosquito nets, keep windows and doors shut, especially during evening hours, to keep away mosquitoes and seek  medical help whenever they contract fever.

And after a few months of  doing as directed, the “malaria” became gradually eradicated.

According to Martin Nkundumugaba, the SFH central region team leader, the Ministry of Health provides mosquito nets to the residents, and SFH contributes to the sensitisation and mobilisation about malaria.

“We understand the great danger malaria poses to human life, this is why we voluntarily take part in various awareness campaigns against it,” Nkundumugaba said.

He added that they use various awareness methods such as inter-personal communication, mobile cinema services and radio skits.

According to Francis Karambizi, the director of health in Bugesera District, each family was supplied with an average of four mosquito nets.

Karambizi said it has not been a smooth drive altogether, there have been challenges, citing, for instance, cases where some of the beneficiaries have misused the mosquito nets.

He said such tendencies like misusing the nets call for SFH’s continuous sensitisation campaigns.

“These people first of all didn’t know that there was a disease-spreading insect called a mosquito, so urging them to sleep under nets  didn’t sound logical, this is why they ended up abusing them sometimes,” he said.

Karambizi added that some beneficiaries even sold off their nets.

“After constant awareness programmes organised by SFH, people’s mindset started changing, and some of these vices were dropped,” he said.

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