Malaria Awareness: Power Forward Utilises Basketball To Educate Students

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A cross section of organisers and students during the summit in Abuja.

Aiming to tackle malaria head-on, the Power Forward programme, backed by ExxonMobil and in collaboration with the National Basketball Association (NBA), has embarked on a groundbreaking initiative to raise awareness among secondary school students in the FCT.

Implemented by PanAfricare, this programme harnesses the influential power of basketball to educate students about malaria prevention and control. The country director of PanAfricare, Dr. Patrick Adah revealed this groundbreaking approach during the 2023 Power Forward Malaria Youth Summit held in Abuja.

The summit, organised by Power Forward in partnership with malaria stakeholders, was hosted at the Divine Mercy School in Abuja, coinciding with the 2023 World Malaria Day. The primary objective of this initiative is to use basketball as an effective tool to educate students about malaria prevention and control.

During the summit, Adah emphasised the focus on malaria awareness, given its life-threatening nature and transmission through certain types of mosquitoes.

“In the realm of public health, particularly with regard to malaria awareness, we employ various strategies. At this summit, we are utilising basketball as a platform to commemorate World Malaria Day, educating the students and raising public health awareness among them.

“For the past 10 years, we have engaged over 40 coaches annually who visit secondary schools in FCT every week to educate the students not only about basketball and life skills but also about public health and malaria. During breaks in basketball training, they also discuss malaria,” explained Adah.

He further highlighted that the students have received training on malaria prevention and treatment, with some emerging as “malaria champions” within the student body. Understanding malaria transmission and prevention methods is crucial for effectively combating the disease. Malaria can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites and using appropriate medication.

“Treatment can stop the progression of mild cases. Malaria is primarily spread through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Additionally, it can be transmitted through blood transfusion and contaminated needles. Initially, the symptoms may be mild and resemble other febrile illnesses, making malaria difficult to identify. If left untreated, P. falciparum malaria can lead to severe illness and death within 24 hours,” he warned.

Vice-president of NBA Africa & NBA Nigeria country head, Gbemisola Abudu highlighted the value of sports, particularly basketball, in educating young people about malaria. She stated, “The programme’s primary objective is to leverage the power of sports to educate youths about malaria awareness and prevention”.

Abudu further emphasized the significance of sports as a tool that resonates with young people and enables effective communication on important health issues. “By harnessing this power, we have successfully educated them about their health, which has been a vital aspect of the Power Forward programme partnership,” added Abudu.

Racheal Abujah
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