Drawing malaria self-test and treatment kit steps
We greet you on project leaders Egleé and Stanford's return from 12 packed days in the Jotï and Eñepa community of Kayama.
On March 14th, Egleé wrote, "We are entering Kayama tomorrow really early in the morning by small plane, loaded with 30 boxes of medical help and supplies, anti-malaria medicines, and mosquito nets.... We are very happy about it. Among the medicines collected, bought and donated are 1500 complete malaria treatments--a year's supply; about 1400 self-diagnosis tests, equally all equipment necessary for the diagnosis with the microscope of malaria, including 2000 microscope slides and 2000 slide covers, additionally medicines for a range of tropical diseases, we even got a soccer ball!
She and Stanford returned just over a day ago, on March 27th, and Egleé was able to share a few photos and a first report of their visit.
Most significantly, they trained Jotï and Eñepa community members on malaria self-testing and treatment kits, designed to serve community members on their journeys deep into the Amazonian forest. The training, and the 1,400 self-diagnosis test kits they delivered at its conclusion, represent the pilot launch of a new Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) campaign, in concert with the Venezuelan Health Ministry, to eliminate malaria in the region. The strategy equips communities with tools and culturally-specific training to take control of infection management, limiting the spread of the pathogen through continued prevention, but also through treatment, not just in community health centers, but when and where infection first occurs, as people travel far from those centers. The goal is to stop infections early, limiting vector transmission, and reducing and eventually eliminating the pathogen's spread.
"We are so excited to be aligning the strategy of our project with the PAHO strategy to eliminate malaria!" says Egleé. "The whole thing came and flowed in a nice way." Children proudly helped Egleé and Stanford turn the kit's instructions into a series of Jotï and Eñepa-language illustrated posters, for community-wide training sessions.
Community members have worked tirelessly to grow their capacity to deal with malaria and avoid its deadly impacts. They emphasized how pleased they were by the success of the nets the project delivered some 3 years ago. And they immediately appreciated how small, field-ready, pocket-sized self-diagnostic and treatment kits for malaria would fit within and extend their existing set of tools, strategies and practices. Egleé notes that, other than the general strategy of self-isolation and community dispersal when malaria begins to spread, there are few traditional strategies to deal with the pathogen. That is likely because malaria is not indigenous to the region, but rather recently introduced and spread by miners and mining activity.
In addition to these kits, and the medicines and supplies Egleé lists above, she and Stanford took advantage of the slightly larger capacity of the only available small plane operator currently flying in the region. They brought along salt and soap at the community's request--basic supplies terribly difficult to acquire during the pandemic. They shared 100 copies of the 500-page, full-color Jotï-Spanish bilingual book co-authored with the community just before the pandemic, about themselves and their territory. And on their return flight to the nearest city with a medical center, the pilot also transported several community members facing health issues so severe that they could not have walked the 9 days needed to seek help on their own.
Going forward, Egleé says, "We want to center malaria, but also other diseases." There's a failing community radio, and many more nets to be replaced. There's also a need to co-design and implement options for trade that don't involve taking up gold mining, a suggestion from their nearest non-Indigenous neighbors that deeply troubles Kayama community members.
We'll tell you more about these and other things, next time.
Thank you, friends, for making this work possible. This most recent visit reaffirms our belief that our project remains grounded in two things: innovative, collaborative partnerships within and beyond these Indigenous communities, and respect for community decisions that support and enhance wellbeing. Your support uplifts us, quite literally, and carries us where we need to go.
Anti-malaria medication & public health materials
Elements of malaria test & treatment kit explained
This poster may be larger than its illustrator.
Children present the full field kit instructions
Demonstrating the malaria kit self-test element
Eglee trains community members on field kit use
Reviewing the Joti community book
Unloading supplies on arrival at Kayama's airstrip