In a groundbreaking effort to combat malaria, Pan-Africare, an independent non-profit organisation, has harnessed the power of basketball to raise awareness among secondary school students. The country director of Pan-Africare, Mr. Patrick Adah made this announcement during the 2023 Power-Forward Malaria Youth Summit held in Abuja.
The summit, organised in collaboration with ExxonMobil, MBA and Pan-Africare, took place at the Divine Mercy School in Abuja, commemorating the 2023 World Malaria Day. The initiative aims to educate students about malaria prevention and control using basketball as a powerful tool.
Adah emphasised the malaria-driven nature of the summit, given that malaria is a life-threatening disease transmitted to humans by certain types of mosquitoes.
“In public health, especially regarding malaria awareness, we employ various strategies. During this summit, we are using basketball as a platform to commemorate World Malaria Day. We teach the students and raise public health awareness among them. For this purpose, we have engaged over 40 coaches who visit schools to educate the students. Additionally, during the short breaks in basketball training, they discuss malaria,” Adah explained.
He further mentioned that the students had received training on malaria, with some of them emerging as “malaria champions” within the student body. Adah stressed the importance of understanding malaria transmission and prevention methods in order to effectively combat the disease.
Malaria can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites and utilising medication. “Treatment can halt the progression of mild cases. Malaria is primarily spread through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Additionally, malaria can be transmitted through blood transfusion and contaminated needles. Initially, the symptoms may be mild and resemble other febrile illnesses, making malaria difficult to recognise. If left untreated, P. falciparum malaria can lead to severe illness and death within 24 hours,” he warned.
The country head for MBA Nigeria, Ma Gbamisola Abudu emphasized the value of sports, particularly basketball, in educating young people about malaria. Abudu stated, “The programme’s primary objective is to leverage the power of sports to educate youth about malaria awareness and prevention”.
She further elaborated on the significance of sports as a tool that resonates with young people, enabling effective communication on important health issues. “Utilising this power, we have successfully educated them about their health, which has been a vital aspect of our partnership,” Abudu added.