Washington — In commemoration of World Malaria Day April 25, thousands of Peace Corps volunteers participated in events to help educate communities on malaria prevention and ways to reduce malaria-related deaths.
The theme for World Malaria Day 2012 was "Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria."
"In countless communities throughout the world, Peace Corps volunteers are working with our partner organizations to help eradicate malaria and create safer and healthier communities," said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. "Volunteers teach communities the importance of sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets, educate expectant mothers about preventive treatments to ensure a healthy birth, and provide people with the tools to stay malaria-free."
Peace Corps volunteers have partnered with the President's Malaria Initiative and nongovernmental organizations to eradicate the disease. On World Malaria Day in 2011, Peace Corps launched Stomping Out Malaria in Africa, an initiative to mobilize more than 3,000 Peace Corps volunteers across Africa to make a lasting impact in malaria prevention. In just six months, the initiative has launched in more than 15 high-incidence African countries, and the program will be extended to other countries later this year. Volunteers help distribute and teach about the importance of sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets, and educate mothers and entire communities about malaria prevention.
From March 3 to March 8, a group of Peace Corps volunteers in Mali biked 40 miles and visited six villages to teach malaria prevention through the Stomping Out Malaria campaign. The volunteers led malaria discussion groups and taught local community members how to make neem lotion, which helps prevent malaria.
To commemorate World Malaria Day 2012, Peace Corps volunteers in Madagascar and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) unveiled a set of murals that use simple images to illustrate the transmission of malaria and explain how to prevent the disease.
Peace Corps volunteer Alissa Ortman of Westerville, Ohio, has been working in malaria prevention since she arrived in Mozambique in September 2010.
"Working on malaria prevention is important, first and foremost, to save lives," Ortman said. "The week after I arrived at my site here in northern Mozambique, a little 5-year-old girl who lived next to me got malaria and died. It was so tragic hearing and seeing what her family had to go through firsthand, and it is something I will never, ever forget. If even one death like hers can be prevented, our efforts will be worth it."