many non-profit organizations know very well, providing
needed resources to alleviate specific problems in
third-world countries is hardly a guarantee to solving them.
Promoting local ownership of the effort is key to ensuring
sustainability and, hence, success. So, it was with hopeful
trepidation that I set out to visit Azuretti, one of ICMRT
mosquito net-recipient villages. My family was on vacation
in the Ivory Coast early last summer, and I decided to cap
it with a quick visit to the coastal village, only 35 miles
from where we stayed. Are the villagers still using their
long lasting mosquito nets 8
after their free distribution? Are community health workers,
trained by ICMRT and CEMV, its local partner, still engaged
in ensuring that villagers use their nets and destroy
mosquito breeding grounds, and still committed to referring
malaria cases to hospitals? These were some of the questions
A team consisting of myself, Dr. Tia, the CEMV’s project
coordinator, his two technicians, and Vincent Koffi, the
ICMRT representative in Ivory Coast arrived in Azuretti
around 10:00 am on July 21. The day was sunny and clear.
However, the main road through the village was relatively
empty and quiet. The quiet was broken only by the sound of
waves from the Atlantic Ocean crashing on the beach. Our van
stopped for a young man in his 20s waving at us. He was
introduced to me as Emmanuel. Emmanuel is one of two
community health workers trained to ensure the
sustainability of our malaria prevention effort in Azuretti.
He would host and guide us as we visited local dignitaries
The village chief was absent, so Emmanuel took us to his
counsel for youth affairs to share the purpose of our visit.
As we would learn, the ocean is the quietest it’s been in
many weeks, so most village men were out in their fishing
Following the ceremonial sharing of news, we set to visit
individual family house-compounds. It was quickly apparent
that Emmanuel was very well known and well liked by
everyone. Passer-bys would also recognize Dr-Tia, his team
and the ICMRT representative and smile broadly. Once in the
house compounds, Emmanuel would quickly let the women of the
house know who I was in N’zima, the local language, and the
reaction would be the same. They would profusely shower me
and the team with thank yous, share stories about how the
nets changed their lives, and quickly invite us to see the
nets in the bedrooms. The nets appeared to be well
maintained. I was on a time schedule, so we visited only
visit three types of houses: a brick house, a wood board
house and a bamboo house.
It struck me after visiting the first two houses that they
might be uncomfortable at night because of the hot weather.
In the last compound we visited, there were two nets
attached to an open thatched roof shelter in addition to two
inside the main house. When asked about the possible
discomfort some may feel in sleeping in bedrooms at night,
smiled quietly and invited us to the beach where he and a
young mother attached one net to four wood posts and invited
me to lie under it to see for myself how they protect
themselves on warm evenings. I did. And as I lay there under
the hot sun, I realized could not have hoped for better
display of proud ownership of the mosquito net. I also
realized the great difference people like Emmanuel can make
in their communities.
ICMRT’s next project is to provide community health workers
like Emmanuel malaria diagnostic kits to help them identify
drug resistant malaria infections, so they may quickly refer
the sick to hospitals for treatment and prevent deaths.
Please join us on November 7 during our
fundraising gala when we
ask for your help in making this happen this year.
For more information contact