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Children in Burkina Faso Educate Families about Malaria

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

Malaria can be both prevented and treated. Yet the disease is still the third biggest killer of children in the world. There is a lack of good information about malaria in some areas. Malaria is spread by bites from mosquitoes. The insects are less likely to bite people who sleep in beds covered by special chemically-treated nets.

Susan Eckhart is a United States Peace Corps volunteer in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. Malaria causes about 9,000 deaths there every year. Ms. Eckhart says people there depend more on treating malaria than preventing it. She says when a sick person reports a high body temperature, the person is given medicine to treat malaria. Patients are given the medicine at the first sign of sickness because it costs less than the test used to identify the disease.

Peace Corps volunteers are trained so they can be involved in public education campaigns. Ms. Eckhart presents information about malaria in fun ways to help the children remember. She works with students from first grade through fifth grade. Older girls and boys who received training at a leadership camp help her with the malaria training. The older children present the malaria information in the local Dagara language. They wrote plays and sang songs about malaria. It is too soon to tell how much of the information in the songs and games is shared with families. But Susan Eckhart says it is a good idea to use Peace Corps volunteers to help prevent malaria. Being part of the community means sharing knowledge, she adds, especially about something as important as malaria.