One net at a time
30 October, 2012
HealthNet staff member Jenny Rodrigues talks with AVID volunteer George Darroch. Photo: Conor Ashleigh
One bed, one mosquito net and one mother at a time, HealthNet Timor-Leste is helping remote communities to stay healthy and malaria-free. Australian volunteer George Darroch is playing his part.
Malaria is a risk to almost the entire population of Timor-Leste. Fortunately infection rates and malaria-related deaths are in decline, due to targeted public health campaigns from Timorese and international agencies.
'People have a strong idea that fever is connected with malaria…but they’re not so aware of the specific signs and symptoms,' says George Darroch. 'And while children and pregnant women are readily understood to be vulnerable, adult malaria is not conceived in the same way. Often members of the community perceive the problem as less-serious or non-serious.'
George is volunteering with HealthNet Timor-Leste on the malaria program through the Australian Volunteers for International Development program, an AusAID initiative.
HealthNet works with the Timorese Ministry of Health to run monthly clinics in remote communities providing treatment of infectious diseases, family planning, nutrition, maternal and child health. Its malaria prevention program targets communities in Dili, Manatuto and Lospalos, helping people to understand how the disease is transmitted, the symptoms and where to get treatment. It also distributes insecticide-treated mosquito nets to pregnant women and children.
'I work with communities to understand why malaria is transmitted, its symptoms, the necessity of seeking treatment without delay, and the necessity of obtaining a prescription and completing a full course of drugs. We do similar work with traditional midwives, health staff, health volunteers, and teachers and students, with programs tailored to each audience,' says George Darroch.
Behaviour change programs require regular monitoring and reporting to highlight the progress that is being made and identify ways to improve information and its delivery. This is where the Australian volunteers come in: George has helped re-design the malaria program’s home visit survey to reduce the resources and travel involved.
Last Reviewed: 30 October, 2012