At 40 years, Akingeneye Vestine still has the glamour of a young woman in her early thirties. She is a regular rural housewife in all ways but one. She is counted among the role models that have been exemplary in the fight against Malaria in her village.
The mooing and bellowing of the cows in her backyard indicates she is among the rural folks that depend on livestock farming and crop cultivation. She is nine months pregnant expecting her fifth child. Her oldest son is 22 years and her fourth child is 14 years.
In 2012, she was among many a resident of Kiburava Cell, Rwimbogo Sector, Gatsibo district that frequented the nearest health center seeking treatment for malaria. “I remember that I, the children and my husband could not spend one month without anyone among us falling sick. I was ashamed to always be at the health center for malaria treatment, but I thank God, no one in my family died due to malaria,” said Akingeneye.
Since 2013, that trend has changed. Her family has not registered any malaria case. She attributes the success to a combination of factors including sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets, Indoor Residual Spray (IRS), proper hygiene and sanitation around her homestead, adding that home visits by Community Health Workers and the SFH Rwanda outreach activities have also contributed to malaria prevention in her village. Her determination to fight malaria was triggered by the drama series and Interpersonal Communication sessions organized by SFH Rwanda conducted in her village.
Akingeneye understands that pregnant mothers and children below the age of five are more vulnerable to malaria. She has vowed to protect herself and the unborn baby from malaria. “When the baby is born I will protect her from malaria,” she said.
Akingeneye shares her experience in the fight against malaria with all her neighbors. She says that people are changing behaviors and perceptions especially on the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and Indoor Residual Spray. When she visits the nearest health center in her village she notices very few people suffering from malaria.
Mukandamage Scovia, 44 years, a mother of four, in Bukomane cell, Gitoki Sector, is another resident of Gatsibo district that has benefited from the community outreach activities on malaria prevention by SFH Rwanda. “When the drama team staged a play using bad and good characters, I was touched, and inspired to prevent malaria not only among family members but also in my community,” said Mukandamage. She told her husband that they must adopt best practices for malaria prevention. For the last 3 years, her family has not registered any malaria case. This has given them time to attend to farming and other income generating activities, and reducing the catastrophic out of packet expenditures. All members of her family sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
SFH Rwanda under the Social Marketing Program (RSPM) with support from USAID/Rwanda trained Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Gatsibo district equipping them with Knowledge and skills on malaria. The RSPM team closely works with the CBOs and CHWs to ensure that messages are effectively and correctly disseminated through different channels, including mass media and community outreach campaigns.
In Kizuguro Sub district, Gatsibo district the number of malaria registered cases has drastically reduced. In December 2017, they registered 18,024 confirmed malaria cases and in September 2018, they registered 413 confirmed malaria cases.