The United States Peace Corps and VectorWorks Ghana Team Up to Spread Messages on Malaria Prevention Among Ghanaian School Children

PCV Alfredo Gonzalez uses the stencils to carry out malaria prevention education with the students of Nyamefie Junior Secondary School in the Brong Ahafo region. While Alfredo facilitates the discussion on malaria prevention, students trace the stencils. (Photo: Peace Corps Ghana)

“Only mosquitoes spread malaria. Avoid the bites and be free from malaria. Your treated mosquito net is your protector.”

Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) disseminated this key message to Ghanaian school children and community members through a collaboration of The U.S. Peace Corps Ghana and the President’s Malaria Initiative-funded VectorWorks Ghana project in 2016.

In alignment with the Government of Ghana’s national social and behavior change communication (SBCC) strategy’s call for creative activities to promote malaria prevention, VectorWorks worked with Peace Corps Ghana to design a Stencil Tracing Toolkit. This toolkit comprised more than 135 stencils depicting various malaria prevention-related images and were shared by the PCVs in the Eastern, Ashanti, Volta, Brong Ahafo, Western, and Northern regions. During a special school/community education campaign, PCVs used these stencils with school children, their teachers, and community leaders to trace malaria prevention-related images on school walls.

PCV Aiden Caravana, with teachers and students of Dibibi Primary School in the Brong Ahafo region, after creating their malaria image (Ghana protected with ITNs—mosquitoes cannot enter, text: “Malaria, sleep under a mosquito net) and talking about the usefulness of the ITNs in preventing malaria. (Photo: Peace Corps Ghana)

As the PCVs’ malaria image tracing progressed, and the images began to form, school children and community members gathered at each location to observe, guess, and talk about what the final image would be. Two of the common images traced on the walls were, a large colorful mosquito with an exaggerated proboscis and a map of Ghana under a huge mosquito net, surrounded by hungry mosquitoes that could not enter the net. Facilitated by the Peace Corps volunteers, these images generated a lot of interest and created a lively atmosphere and discussions of malaria, its prevention, and treatment.

A total of 167 stencil-traced images related to malaria were painted in 22 communities in 52 locations across six regions in Ghana. The schools that participated in this activity fit into two categories: schools that received ITNs through school-based distribution and schools interested in raising awareness about malaria around World Malaria Day. There were 11 Peace Corps Volunteers who facilitated the stencil tracing over a period of one week. A total of 33,675 school children and community members participated in this innovative and community-based malaria prevention education activity.

PCV Eva McAvoy, with pupils of the Kukurantumi Primary School in the Eastern region, after tracing and painting a mosquito, with the words: “Malaria, Fight the Bite,” on the school wall and talking about the dangers it poses by spreading malaria. (Photo: Peace Corps Ghana)

Schools as a platform for malaria education and malaria prevention are critical components of the VectorWorks project. Last year, VectorWorks supported the NMCP and the Ghana Education Service in distributing 936,357 ITNs to 16,026 primary schools in six regions (Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Western and Volta). In May 2017, the NMCP, with support from VectorWorks, will conduct another school-based distribution, this time in nine regions (adding Greater Accra, Northern, and Upper East), thus expanding the reach of this successful initiative.

As World Malaria Day approaches in April, VectorWorks and Peace Corps Ghana plan to scale-up their stencil tracing activity to reach more communities and schools to promote malaria prevention.

Emmanuel Fiagbey is the Chief of Party for VectorWorks Ghana. 

desi kahani