Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Royal Commonwealth Society - Me And My Net Youth Summit - Nairobi

Foreword;

Kenya is a Malaria hit country among the many countries that are reeling from Malaria infestation. Estimates points at around 34,000 deaths of malaria related cases in Kenya per year. Of all daily hospital outpatient visits in Kenya, 30% are Malaria related, representing quite a large number. This kind of data shows just how terrible the situation is. Sadly, this phenomenon is replicated to other countries, where some have worse cases.

Children below 5 years of age plus the pregnant mothers are the leading in malaria infections. Across the country, various initiatives have been put in place to fight malaria through collective active participation of the Kenyan government ministries, community health workers, community based organizations, youth groups etc. The Ministry of Education have also introduced a wide coverage of communicable diseases like malaria in the curriculum, which have in turn helped to spread the awareness to the rural people, hence the reduction of new infections in various households. The provisions of free treated nets to expectant mothers have also greatly reduced the spread of the disease, not forgetting the infant deaths.

Ii is in line of this objective, that the Common Wealth Royal Club saw the need to come up with a solution that will involve everyone in the society to get involved in the eradication of the malaria pandemic across all 54 member states, under the Me and My Net awareness campaign. The best way is to reach out to students, who constitute the largest portion of the population for a wide range in line with the spreading awareness. It’s a noble idea o note that the majority of the rural masses have inferior information about malaria, especially the prevention part of it. This is where the students are supposed to chip in the information they learn from the summits, and help curb more deaths from the local level. This is a goal that the Me and My Net seeks to reach via the summits and the competition taking place from July to end of September. Enlightening people on the effective daily use of treated mosquito nets, clearing of bushes, draining of stagnant waters, and periodic spraying of homesteads are some of the many ways that the campaign is laying much emphasis on.


Dr. Ann Musava of PSI Kenya making a presentation

The Summit;

The Introduction session;

The venue summit was Malezi School in Nairobi. The ME and My NET team had arrived had gotten to the veue well on time led by then Program manager Ms. Meera Chindoroy and Ms. Mary Greer. George Mugera of Cosmos Education Kenya represented the organization in the process. The host school had prepared the hall well in advance hence the start of the day’s program on time. Meera opened the session in a thrilling fashion that left the audience yearning for more. Soon after, Dr. Anne Musava from PSI Kenya (Population Services International) took to the podium.

The charitable humorous doctor was amazed to meet an audience with immense information about malaria prevalence, the causes, transmission etc. an in-depth discussion about the malaria transmitting genes e.g. the plasmodia falciparum, was held. The participation from the audience was commendable. It is in this session that the climate change issue was chipped in. It was evidently realized that the rising CO2 gas emissions, exacerbated the spread of malaria since mosquitoes are more attracted by high temperatures and wet conditions for breeding.

By all means at the hallmark of the session, it was an educative, interactive moment, rather than an awareness session.

SESSION II

The second session came there after a tea break. The theme was “Malaria Prevalence and Menace in Kenya”.Several sub topics were attached to the main theme, hence paving the way for a more interactive session, leading to the way forward and ultimate solution.

George Mugera of Cosmos Education Kenya leading the debate session



Sub Topics:

a) Challenges facing the society in facing out Malaria

b) Solutions

c) The Role of young people - students in fighting malaria epidemic

d) The Way Forward / conclusion

The students were divided into 5 groups, while the teachers were randomly added into the groups and requested to forget their status and assume the students role to equalize the participation and get rid of student-teacher fear..! The discussions went nicely well with everyone giving invaluable views in their respectful groups. After the discussions, every group had to pick a group leader/presenter who would read out the points discussed at the podium.


The Debate Points

Challenges;

i) High level of illiteracy in Kenya especially people in the remote countryside.

ii) Poverty

iii) Ignorance - people underrate malaria, as it’s perceived to be less severe.

iv) Limited health care facilities

v) Infrastructure - poor road networks connecting hospitals and medical centers hence increasing the probability of increased malaria death cases.

vi) Bureaucracy/Corruption: Misappropriations of health funds, leading to people lacking instant medical care when in need.

vii) Cultural and religious beliefs. People failing to look for medical care and visiting witchdoctors for the healing power” to cast the malaria demon out, and instant death sets in…!

viii) The changing climate. Global warming have led to global temperature rise thus encouraging migrations of pests and vector from different tropic and locations thus encouraging mosquitoes in Kenya (Eastern Africa), known to inhabit lowlands to migrate to the highlands and urban centers due to large CO2 gas emissions, this was perceived to be an uphill task towards malaria eradication completely

Students sharing ideas during the groups' discussion session


The Way Forward / Conclusion;

  • Awareness it was realized as the only channel to face out malaria infections amongst the masses. Deemed pivotal in making people clean their compounds, how to handle the disease and how to observe the general hygiene.
  • Provision of wider coverage of malaria disease as a unit topic in all classes in the current education curriculum.
  • Students to actively disseminate the malaria information to the un-informed in their society
  • Constant spraying of our home and school compounds with environment friendly pesticides.
  • Provision of free medical clinics and free nets to eradicate further infections.
  • People should be encouraged to plant mosquito repellants e.g. the citronella grass, the Mexican marigold, peppermint, etc.around their compounds. The leaves / flowers of these plants have a strong scent that repels away the mosquitoes
  • The infected should to seek medical attention from qualified medical personnel.
  • The infrastructure to be improved for easy access to medical facilities
  • Decisive care for the environment to reduce the effects of climate changes especially the carbon emission.


The Role of Young People.

Every MOSQUITO HAS ITS OWN DAY” …. This is a tagline that was unanimously agreed by the audience, to be used as a theme in the upcoming anti malaria campaign events. Students are the main channel to spread the much needed awareness on malaria, from school compounds to the communities in the villages. Those present were advised to take up the challenge and disseminate the information to their colleagues back in school. Thus Me and My Net Campaign came at the right time, to the right people through the right mode! Many thanks to the Commonwealth Club.

Master Hawi making a presentation on behalf of his group members



SESSION III: 2.30 – 4.30PM.

The afternoon session resumed soon after lunch break. The session theme was The Campaign..! It was all about the students getting back to their groups and critically thinking and coming out with the best ways to disseminate the information to the society. Just before the presentations, the Botswana High commissioner to Kenya stepped in and graced the occasion. George set the ball rolling with a presentation of the vital points of the morning session and the way forward. Soon after, the high commissioner gave his speech, which carried lots of informative sentiments that were in tandem with the topic of the day.

No sooner had he finished the speech, than the groups took to the floor one after another with their presentations. Lots of workable critically perfected ideas were put in writing and drawing. Other pieces had to be presented in a concert form especially the traditional medicine men “healing power”. This is one of the many shows that left the audience astonished while others were unable to control loads of laughter. A proper use of the treated nets was nicely illustrated in a drawing, contrary to a practice by some Kenyan communities who use the nets for fishing! Poems were also part of the presentations which depicted the real scenario on the ground..!

Mary proudly displays one of the "campaign strategy poster's"


SESSION 4;

The last session involved the presentation of gifts to all the participants. Tens of treated nets, campaign branded t-shirts plus reading materials were given to the students and the teachers. The CEK team joined the RCC team in dishing out the goodies to the attendees.

A cocktail was nicely prepared for the guests by the school administration. All the guests gathered in the bar and enjoyed some yummy bites. The high commissioner thanked all the participants on behalf of the Commonwealth Society and his entourage. He emphasized the commitment of the organization to help the young people in the member states to realize the millennium development goals.

CONCLUSION

This was just but the beginning of a long-term mission of fighting malaria in Kenya and also the East Africa region at large. We definately need to partner together in this noble mission. A lot is destined for achievement if we realized the potential we posses in eradicating this Global Menace.


Story by George Mugera

University of Nairobi &

Cosmos Education Kenya.

9 comments:

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Do you have an e-mail address? I'd like to get permission to use some of your photos for the Wikipedia article about Cosmos Education - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmos_Education

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