Combating Malaria through Behavior Change Communication
Since its start five years ago, the current Global Fund for Malaria – Thailand project has made significant progress in the fight against malaria, helping Thailand on the path to achieving its national goal of being 80% malaria-free by 2020. Working under a sub-grant from Thailand’s Bureau for Vector Borne Diseases (BVBD), Kenan experts have successfully taught over 12,000 fifth grade students critical life skills to help protect them and their families from the devastating effects of malaria. These students now possess important knowledge that will reduce their long-term risk of contracting malaria and help to build safer, healthier communities in Thailand. The project, which launched in October 2011, set out to combat malaria in nine targeted provinces along Thailand’s borders with Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Myanmar, where incidents of the disease are highest due to large inflows of migrant workers and the development of antibiotic resistant strains of malaria.
The central component of Kenan’s efforts was embedding a malaria prevention behavioral change communication (BCC) curriculum into 658 at-risk elementary schools. This curriculum features practical lessons and is complemented by engaging, kid-friendly materials, such as comic books and videos, to raise awareness about lifesaving malaria prevention techniques.
“Because of the program, my students are applying the lessons into their own lives,” said Siriwan Thawangkan, a fifth-grade teacher from Mae Ramad Noi School in Tak province, “and, more importantly, spreading knowledge about malaria prevention to their parents and communities.”
As a result of the Global Fund project, 1,207 teachers and principals were trained on the curriculum, which was then taught to 12,823 fifth grade students over the life of the project. Although the project will conclude in September 2016, the prevention skills and knowledge will remain in the communities for years to come, helping to sustain malaria elimination efforts and protecting these communities.
A major accomplishment of the project was the substantial progress made toward eradicating malaria from Trat Province through a public-private initiative. To achieve this, Kenan conducted capacity building on malaria prevention for local health officials and organized local stakeholders to enact and carry out policies to control malaria. When the initiative began in 2012, there were 304 documented cases of malaria in Trat; however, in the last year, just 95 cases have been recorded, a 68.75% decrease from the baseline data. Trat Province is on its way to being completely malaria free as a result of this public-private push.
Looking back on over five years of work, Kenan is proud to have aided vulnerable border communities by providing valuable information and know-how that reduced the risk of malaria infection. The project’s BCC curriculum will remain in hundreds of schools for the foreseeable future, impacting thousands of students and their families, and moving Thailand ever closer to eliminating malaria.