With about half of the world’s population at risk of malaria, World Malaria Day is recognized every April 25th. To commemorate the day and increase awareness in Etsha 13, the clinic and I created a mosquito net exhibit and focused the week’s health talk on malaria. We hung the net in the middle of the clinic for a few days before and my counterpart Kandondi helped me with translating the talk. Health Talks are given every Wednesday at the clinic, as this is the day that blood samples are collected for CD4 counts, creating the most traffic through the clinic. This meant that the audience was made up of those most at risk: people living with HIV and the usual group of pregnant women and mothers bringing in babies for weighing. The talk emphasized prevention measures, early recognition of symptoms, and gave time for Q & A at the end. I was surprised to learn that many of my community members were unaware that mosquitoes transmit malaria, including the staff member at the clinic who helped me translate the statements for the net display.
Luckily, malaria is not the insurmountable problem in Botswana as many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa face. Over the past decade, malaria related deaths have decreased drastically and overall incidence is down as well. Data from the previous year showed only a handful of cases, but outbreaks have occurred in my sub-district this season. Botswana is very close to eradication!