Students Pursue Malaria Prevention

Students from the Preparation for Social Action group studying together in the village of Keng on Karkar Island took a very interesting field trip to a local hospital on the island. Their aim for the day was to meet with an expert at the hospital to discuss and learn more about malaria. The students have taken an interest in this topic, a topic which has arisen in their studies and one that is very relevant to the lives of the students, their families and the community they live in.

Tutor of the group, Robin Bunungam, and his students were fascinated to learn more about a disease which is commonly contracted but not fully understood by all members of the community.As a group motivated by wanting to make positive contributions in their region they have decided to initiate their own awareness campaign about malaria, as a service project, so that they can raise understanding with others from Karkar Island about how the illness occurs and about the precautions that can be taken to avoid malaria.

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                                          Robin and his group meet an expert on malaria from the local hospital

To prepare for such a project the group have needed to research and to find out about the malaria epidemic which affects more than 90 countries, and claims the lives of 1.5 million each year. The curriculum of the PSA gives the students a fundamentals understanding about how malaria is transmitted and how it affects each person and the communities (particularly rural communities) which are situated in the malarial zones throughout the much of Africa, South America and South-East Asia.

Malaria is a disease transmitted by female mosquitoes of the Anopheles genus which carry the malarial parasites responsible for the disease in humans. Having entered a persons blood stream from a mosquito bite the parasites enter the liver where they multiply returning to the blood stream 9 to 25 days later where they cause red blood cells to burst which results in chills, fever, aches and pains, anaemia, fatigue, nausea , muscular pain and in extreme cases damage to the spleen and liver, coma and death can occur. There are between 300 and 500 million cases of malaria each year around the world and while treatments exist, prevention is widely accepted as the best method of combating it.

Through their studies the students also investigate preventative measures which can be taken such avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes by wearing protective clothing, sleeping under mosquito nets and avoiding being exposed to mosquitoes during the dawn and dusk periods of the day.Larger scale strategies also exist, but by simply focusing on raising awareness about what each individual can do help reduce the contraction of the disease in communities like Keng.

Robin and his group of students were inspired by what they had read and after forming an interest in malaria prevention, Robin organised for a research trip to a hospital nearby the community. The visit was a chance for the students to deepen their understanding and to hear from an expert who could answer the questions they had. This visit proved very productive with the local doctor and malaria researcher offering to assist the students in any way he could including supplying the students with the statistics in their region which would help to see if the students actions were having an impact.

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