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How Taraba communities triumph over malaria

By Suru Charles

When 35 years old Ajara Sani, domiciled in Monkin village of Zing local government councils of Taraba state lost two of her children within the space of one year, she never attributed the cause of their demise to any form of ailments.

Her sense and that of her husband as well as those of her family members never at any time made them think or believed that such deaths could be associated with any of the preventable child killer diseases that are common in most rural communities spread across the state and the country at large.

Ajara, who went about shifting the blame, told our correspondent that “before now when I don’t know what it means to sleep inside mosquito nets, I used to point accusing fingers at some of my family members for my woes.”

Narrating how she lost two of her children to the cold hand of death within a period of a year, she said “all my thinking than was that I am been bewitched my husband family members” adding that “I even went as far as going to consult Oracle to see if I can actually know those behind my predicaments”.

Ajara, who spoke through an interpreter, said “I finally realized my mistake and ignorance when my third child fell sick and was at the verge of giving up the ghost”.

For a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) who, according to her, came to her rescue by introducing her to sleeping inside mosquito nets with her family members, she said “I think by now, I will have also lost this boy you are seeing in my hands.”

Going ahead to stress how she and her family members had earlier resisted the NGO from preaching the gospel of sleeping inside the nets to them, she said “I used to have the belief that sleeping inside the net is a taboo.”

Adding that “as far as I am concerned then, nets are to be used for fishing and not for a human being to sleep inside.”

Narrating how she was always in and out of health facilities with her third child before the arrival of the NGO into her communities, Ajara who claimed that throughout the period her late two children felt sick she never visited any hospital, said “could you believe that it was in the hospital that I came to realize that there is a sickness called malaria?”

The 37 years old woman who reeled out the symptoms she noticed in her third child said “those symptoms are exactly what I noticed in my two children that died.”

“Since I came to realize this, coupled with the lectures my family and I got from those men (NGO), I must confess to you that our situation has changed from bad health to good health.” She added

Claiming to have been among the beneficiaries that benefited from the Insecticide Treated Nets recently doled out by the Catholic Relief Services(CRS), the days when mosquitoes always feed fat on her family members, as made known by her “are gone.”

“I must confess to you, that since I started sleeping inside the nets that were recently given to us, my perceptions have changed” adding that ” since then, my son has not developed any symptoms of malaria again.”

Affirming that “I am so happy today because I and my remaining two children and husband now sleep under a treated mosquito net” she said, “we no longer suffer from malaria.”

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Adding that “We are now normal and we are all healthy as a family. I am healthy as well as my children, so we do not get enough time to embark on meaningful ventures.”

Apart from Ajara, other beneficiaries who spoke with our state correspondent, confessed that malaria had suddenly distanced itself from them since they learned how to sleep inside nets.

“I must confess to you that I am now seeing changes in the health of my family members since the very day I made it mandatory for every member of my family to sleep inside the net.”

Sandra Aliyu who made this known was also quick to admit that most of the nets made available to them in the past are either sold out by her family “or used in fishing” adding that “but now, he has not only been taught how to use them but also on the importance of sleeping inside like a newborn baby ”

Explaining how it was not easy for the NGOs assigned with the responsibility of sensitizing and enlightening the people on the importance of sleeping inside nets, the state chairman of the Coalition of Civil Societies in Nigeria, Dr Joseph Gimba, said ” I am glad that at the end of the day, the people did not only accept the nets but they are also making use of them as directed.

Identifying malaria as one of the major sicknesses bedevilling the people in Taraba, especially the rural dwellers, he is optimistic that the reverse will soon be the case ” because, from our observations, almost all the beneficiaries of the over two million ITNs that were distributed are now sleeping inside the nets. ”

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