WiRED Community Health Workers Battle Malaria
Playing a Trusted Role in Their Communities
By Allison Kozicharow; Edited by Elizabeth Fine
Every single WiRED International Community Health Worker (CHW) in Kisumu Kenya, has had at least one episode of malaria and, aside from COVID-19, malaria is the most frequent illness they see in the people they treat in their communities. The following are three testimonials from CHWs describing their own experiences with malaria and their efforts to educate their people locally in how to prevent, recognize and treat the disease.
“As a CHW I got called out one night to examine a woman who was shivering, sweating, feverish and complaining of headache. I took her to the nearest hospital, and she tested positive for malaria and was given antiviral drugs. After she got home I monitored her to make sure that she followed her medicine regime.”
“My personal experience with malaria has been very challenging as it affects me periodically and comes unexpectedly. Most bouts I have bad migraines. As a CHW I got called out one night to examine a woman who was shivering, sweating, feverish and complaining of headache. I took her to the nearest hospital, and she tested positive for malaria and was given antiviral drugs. After she got home I monitored her to make sure that she followed her medicine regime.”
— Tracy Agatha Achieng’
“Malaria is a life-threatening disease if untreated. I have been closely monitoring pregnant women together with nursing mothers because when pregnant it is not easy to realize that you are suffering from malaria because the symptoms and those of early pregnancy are nearly the same. I am saying this because I was once a victim.
When I was expecting my first-born child I nearly died of malaria thinking that whatever I was suffering from was just pregnancy. I vomited all day and only drank water. I developed a high fever and sweated all night. One night I was found lying on the floor and was taken to the hospital where I stayed for seven days.
Now I advise the people I see in my job as a CHW to wear protective clothing, use mosquito repellents and netting and practice precautions. I conduct home visitation to make sure people are being careful in their homes. I explain that malaria is equally deadly at all ages and repeated attacks of malaria can lead to chronic anemia, malnutrition and stunted growth. I particularly educate pregnant women on how to protect themselves against malaria.”
— Pauline Adhiambo
“I have contracted malaria several times in my life, but the last encounter was a bad one. The experience is one you would never want to have. I sweated so much that I hated my body. I vomited and had diarrhea and uncontrollable headaches. My cousin died from malaria. I hate malaria, and as a CHW I try to help people in my community who contract it.”
— Bunnyce Atiendo