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An estimated 320 children under 5 years of age die each day from malaria in Uganda and malaria is responsible for a loss of up to 6% of the Gross National Product (GDP) from lost productivity and health service costs. Without prevention and treatment, the poor are trapped in a cycle of poverty remaining too weak to work and children too sick to attend school. Our project, Enlightenment Uganda, aims to minimize the social and economic losses attributable to malaria by providing health education and preventative health care, particularly to low income pregnant mothers and infants under five in poor communities who are especially vulnerable so as to curtail new infections and reduce the current mortality rate caused by malaria. Our idea is in particularly innovative since it uses the culturally appropriate medium of Ugandan traditional music and theatre as a central component to reach out and easily connect with the communities. Culture and superstitious beliefs have impeded people from understanding facts about malaria. Our venture will, therefore, involve use of these highly valued cultural music and drama activities, which are familiar mediums of communication to aid in the message delivery.
Our belief is that, fundamental change in health practices begins with communities and active engagement of communities in all malaria preventive strategies is at the heart of our project. We will set up a community resource center where there will be information bulletins, and malaria prevention workshops will be held. It will serve as a portal through which cultural attitudes about malaria will change and will shift the populace towards health seeking behaviors. To stimulate engagement, Enlightenment Uganda will not only provide health education and mosquito nets, but will work with communities to set up local committees to coordinate and monitor community malaria prevention campaigns like clearing malaria habitants. In so doing we will promote community ownership of the project that will make the venture more likely to be sustainable.
In the first year, we will start with Lugoba, a slum in Uganda’s capital of Kampala. The slum is on poorly drained land, which in combination with poor sanitary conditions and overcrowding leads to diseases such as malaria. In the second year we will expand to Kawempe Division and finally to Luwero district in year three.