The honorary work of Community Health Volunteers to eliminate malaria in the Islamic Republic of IranNov 15, 2015
Malaria is known to be a disease associated with the level of local development. In Iran malaria is predominantly prone in Sistan & Baluchestan province in the southeast of the country with a population of 2.5 million.
In order to increase protection against this disease particularly among marginalized people in remote areas, the involvement of the local community members was planned and practiced in National Malaria Elimination Program and supported by Global Fund malaria project of UNDP. As a result of this more than 3,700 local volunteers – mainly women – were trained on health related skills focusing on malaria by Zahedan University of Medical Science.
2,050 local volunteers cover the rural area and another 1,695 activists care for marginalized people in suburban areas of the cities. Each volunteer – having gone through some basic trainings – is called Community Health Volunteer (CHV) and assigned to a specific area with up to 50 families (up to 250 people) to whom they convey their knowledge on malaria in a simple, understandable way through face to face education.
One of the main responsibilities of CHVs is to train people to properly setup and use of the Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN) which is conveyed to the people through using a set of cloth-made flip charts to teach the local people on the ways to protect their houses against mosquito intrusion. In addition to this, another responsibility of the CHVs is their active participation during the malaria transmission seasons to find and refer suspicious cases to health facilities.
Some of local volunteers in the remote areas are trained on using Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits and are able to screen suspected malaria cases using RDT kits throughout the year. Each positive case diagnosed by the use of RDT kit is immediately referred to the nearest health center for treatment. The cases are closely monitored by the assigned CHV in order to ensure completion of treatment as an important factor in decreasing the malaria cases.
Since the use of RDT kit is very simple and understandable for everyone without requiring complex skills and knowledge, 259 “RDT Posts” have been established in areas with local transmission or potential for reintroduction of transmission of malaria – mainly close to the border with Pakistan with participation of local health volunteers (majorly female), and village teachers.
The boarder districts of Saravan, Konarak and Chabahar with 100, 75 and 66 RDT posts are the districts with the highest number of such posts respectively. In Saravan and Konarak, 5.1% and 2.6% of total positive cases were diagnosed using RDT kits in the RDT posts by local volunteers.
Also, during the home visits, CHVs identify potential vector habitats and the necessary larval source management solutions are carried out under the supervision of malaria officers.
Alongside their main responsibilities they also help with community mobilization and participation in vector control activities such as Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), distribution of insecticide treated bed nets, and larvae elimination.
The CHVs’ work is honorary to help their community.