Imagining Angola without malaria
Quessua Mission Hospital increases access to malaria treatment and prevention
By Tatenda Mujeni*
“Imagina Angola sem Malaria,” in Portuguese, or “Imagine Angola without Malaria,” is the slogan that mothers and young children attending the Quessua Mission Hospital sing weekly after their education session with the Imagine No Malaria (INM) team. Imagining Angola free from malaria illnesses and preventable deaths is the bold goal that the health team in the East Angola Episcopal Area is working toward through its local Imagine No Malaria program.
Dr. Cleivy Benitez Garcia, a Global Ministries’ missionary serving with the Quessua mission station in Angola, trains community INM volunteers at Quessua Hospital. PHOTO: Courtesy East Angola Health Board
Established in the late 1800s, Quessua mission clinic has been pivotal in providing health services to the community surrounding the mission station for more than a century. The Quessua mission station and the original mission hospital were completely destroyed over 40 years of war, first during the war for independence from Portugal and then during Angola’s civil conflicts, which finally ended in 2002 with the signing of a ceasefire among factions. Since 2002, with the support of the Angolan government and many teams of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, Quessua Hospital has now been reconstructed into a state-of-the art facility aimed at serving the disadvantaged communities in Quessua and surrounding villages.
After the opening of the new health facility in 2015, cases of severe malaria and deaths in children under five were still being reported in the Quessua community. Although the health facility provided services, the community was not seeking the medical attention available to them and often relied on traditional home remedies to treat the disease.
“The population did not have habit of accessing health centers or our workshops, where we offer health education by nurses. When people come to the center, we ask, ‘how long have you or your child been sick?’ Some will answer, ‘for two weeks, for a month, for a long time,’” reported Dr. Celma Antonio, director of the Quessua Hospital.
Malaria is a serious disease for children under five and pregnant women; it can cause severe complications or death if not detected and treated early. Increasing access to the health facilities where patients can find appropriate medical attention is therefore important in reducing malaria deaths in this population.
In 2017, the East Angola Episcopal Area received an Imagine No Malaria (INM) grant with the goal of reducing malaria illnesses and deaths in the communities surrounding Quessua mission. Objectives of the project include malaria prevention through education and mosquito net distribution as well as ensuring that all malaria cases were accurately and promptly detected and treated at the Quessua Mission Hospital.
Trained INM volunteers gather for a photo before they disperse into the communities for house-to-house visits that engage residents in malaria education and prevention. PHOTO: Courtesy East Angola Health Board
Through the INM program, the Quessua team trained 37 young volunteers who visited each household in the eight communities surrounding Quessua, providing door-to-door malaria education. The INM team also held community dialogue sessions and captivating song and health demonstrations at Quessua Hospital. They distributed mosquito nets to each of the households they visited and ensured that the residents understood the importance of sleeping under a net each night to prevent malaria.
Since the mass net distribution and door-to-door education in Quessua, the hospital has seen a significant increase in patients visiting the health facility. More than 15,000 patients were seen between September and November of 2018 alone.
Dr. Antonio expressed her gratitude for the INM program, saying, “Today, by God´s grace and the arrival of the INM program, health education and dialogue sessions, through house-to-house visits in the communities, have increased the population’s access to our Quessua Health Center. Now people in the communities come for consultation when the first symptoms of malaria appear.”
An INM volunteer conducts a house visit with a mother and her children. In addition to specific facts about malaria and its prevention, the family also receives news about Quessua Hospital and how to access health care when family members need it. PHOTO: Courtesy East Angola Health Board
The East Angola team continues to work toward the goal of an Angola without malaria through continued weekly education sessions and ensuring that the health facility is adequately supplied with all necessary medications and supplies.
*Tatenda Mujeni is the program manager for Imagine No Malaria, Global Health, General Board of Global Ministries.