Mtwara, a rural district in the south of the country, is particularly affected. As one of the poorest districts, it has some of the worst health statistics. For example, one in four children die before reaching their fifth birthday.
In March 2007, AMREF launched Mtwara Community Based Health Care Project to strengthen health systems there, with a special focus on malaria prevention and control.
In each of the 118 participating villages, 10 community health workers were selected by the villagers themselves. Village leaders first shortlisted the applicants, then the chosen 10 were decided by a written test and general vote.
Saloum was one of those selected in his home village of Nangure – a small community with one main road, scattered houses and lush vegetation. Saloum, aged 30, a farmer and father of two, is now also a fully trained community health worker.
Saloum first heard about AMREF when he sought treatment for his son who was ill with malaria. As Saloum describes, before the AMREF project began, all he knew about malaria was that it was dangerous and that many people who catch malaria die.
Inspired to fight in the war against malaria, Saloum is now teaching his community about the disease. He cycles from house to house on a bicycle provided by AMREF, educating and helping others, even during the rainy season. The response has been so positive that people are seeking him out and visiting him at his home.
Saloum feels secure in the knowledge that AMREF is continuing to provide support and fulfill its promises; “From the project in our village I can see that AMREF is different”. The most tangible proof of success is that the number of malaria deaths in the village is decreasing. Saloum, justifiably, feels positive about the future.