Kankou is a community health volunteer from the village of Komocara in southwest Mali. She has been active in her community for 20 years and looks after the general welfare of the villagers, with particular emphasis on children.
Of the many diseases and illnesses affecting children, malaria has had the worst impact on our village. Mosquitoes swarm throughout the year and even more during the rainy season. Many people neither use mosquito nets at night nor remove the stagnant water where the mosquitoes breed.
The number of pregnant women, children, and newborns who die of malaria was very high, at approximately 20 deaths per year. My own family has suffered the loss of four people in two years. Now, that is changing. With the support of Plan, my community and many other villages in the region have joined the fight against malaria.
I raise awareness by going door to door and organizing twice-weekly talks to educate people about malaria prevention and treatment. At the talks, a health worker tests pregnant women and children and cases of malaria are treated right there. According to the age of the patient, they are given free doses of medicine.
The fight against malaria is a real challenge, but we are producing good results. Mothers are now accustomed to go with their babies to meet the health worker when he visits the village.
They also listen to my advice and seek help at the health center. My greatest satisfaction is that most women in Komocara now protect their babies and sleep under nets with their children to avoid mosquito bites.
Unlike in the past where an average of 20 cases was detected during each health visit, only 10 cases of malaria were reported in children in the last four months. For nearly a year, the village of Komocara recorded no deaths of a child or pregnant women from malaria. It makes me proud that my village is held up as an example of positive change by the head doctor. Komocara will gain a victory over malaria soon.