Traditionally a married couple remembers the details of their wedding day for life. In Mali, the district malaria advocacy teams known as Comités de Veille, or Community Watch Committees (CWCs), understand this way of thinking. Mayors, who act as members of the CWC, realize the benefits of incorporating malaria education into marriage celebrations in their townships, and are doing so with surprising results.
Seydou Keita, deputy mayor of Dabia and member of the CWC in the region of Kenièba, says that in 2010 alone, 48 couples in Kenièba benefited from the counsel and instruction of the mayor’s malaria advocacy efforts before the official celebration of their marriage. To these 96 newlyweds, he adds their parents, witnesses, friends, admirers and other wedding guests to his count.
So far, the practice has also been successful in the town of Logo, in the region of Kayes, as well as in Kenièba—both highly endemic regions where malaria takes a heavy toll on the health system—more than 30% of outpatient visits—and on family budgets. The average costs of consultation, diagnosis and treatment can often surpass a family’s weekly income.
What is a Community Watch Committee?
A Community Watch Committee is a community group comprised of representatives of key organizations in government, business, health and religion. Together, they act as advocates in the fight against malaria, adopting new social measures, acquiring new knowledge and implementing attitudes and behaviors that effectively fight against malaria and reverse its effects on mortality, morbidity and other handicaps.
The members of the CWC are influential persons in the community who facilitate information sharing, decision making and resource mobilization. By ensuring that appropriate actions are taken by members of the community, these mayors and their fellow CWC members are building a foundation of continuous action.
The Voices for a Malaria-Free Future project, a Gates Foundation-funded project that is being implemented by CCP, in cooperation with its main implementing partner in Mali, the Group Pivot Sante Population (GPSP) has mobilized, trained and established CWCs in 8 regions across the country. Through formal and informal communication channels – the media, correspondence, community meetings, family and community celebrations – CWC members advocate for improved access and use of prevention and treatment methods by working in tandem with local leaders, health personnel and affected populations.
Their advocacy efforts help to keep the community pharmacies adequately stocked with malaria control supplies, hold leaders accountable to ensure that malaria control remains a priority, and keep at-risk groups updated about how to protect and treat themselves, families and communities and how to advocate for their malaria protection rights.
Learn more about Voices for a Malaria-Free Future.