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Beating malaria in Burundi

In Burundi, malaria is responsible for nearly half of all deaths of children under five.

Three year old Billia recovering at home with his mother Jeanne Irambona in Citiboke Province, Burundi.

Concern analysis

In 2012, analysis by Concern in Burundi showed that just 24% of children suffering from malaria received immediate treatment. In addition, only about half of children with fevers were referred to a health centre. Two of the main causes were inadequate staffing at health centres and the difficulty of travelling across mountainous terrain by foot to get treatment.

Pilot programme

To address the issue, we piloted a new approach in partnership with the Ministry of Health. We trained teams of women to visit families in their homes and screen for malaria.  When malaria was detected by local volunteers, community workers were alerted to either treat the child at home or, in serious cases, refer them to the local health centre.

Jeanne’s story

Mother of four, Jeanne Irambona, who lives in Mabayi Commune, Citiboke Province, benefited from this programme when her three-year-old son, Billia, fell ill. She contacted the local health workers in her area, Charlotte Rehema, who immediately assessed Billia. Jeanne said:

Charlotte did the blood test, which was positive for malaria. She gave me the drug treatment my son needed and followed up to ensure that it had worked.  After three days, the community health worker came again to test the child and said that he was cured.

Follow-up care

Follow-up care is crucial to ensure that children are rapidly referred to the health centre for more specialised care if the treatment is not successful. The community care approach ensures that treatment is delivered within 24 hours.

Future plans

Based on the success of this pilot, Concern will be expanding the approach in 2013 to tackle the massive problem of diarrhoeal disease affecting children in Burundi.