Mark’s job is to supervise activities at the community’s health centre, train health workers to spot the signs of NTDs and report progress in the region to the national health authorities. Mark is also a case finder, and so is also tasked with diagnosing suspected cases in the area.
Along with diagnosing and treating diseases like river blindness, Mark believes that raising community awareness is key to eliminating the diseases: “One of the key points is health education.”
Victor Scott is a community volunteer working in Bono community, also in Gbarpolu county. Since 2016 he’s been responsible for giving out medication for NTDs, explaining to people what it’s for and how important it is to take it.
Victor’s training ensures that he gives out the right dose of the medicine for LF and river blindness, which are treated with the same tablet. “I ask [their] age [and if they are] pregnant, or seriously sick,” and he then advises that they cannot take the medication if they are. Victor then explains the importance of measuring the patient first, as the dose is calculated by height, not age. He measures each recipient to work out the correct dose, using a dose pole, before giving them the medicine.
In places where health information is scarce, people can be wary of taking unfamiliar medicine. But Victor reassures them that it is safe to take and will mean they can live without the risk of infection.
With more than 2,000 households in the area, volunteering can be tiring work for Victor. But he is passionate about his role, even dedicating some of his evenings to go house to house with the medication. “I don’t want anyone to be left behind,” he says. “My motivation is that I love my people and I love my community. I’m doing this work to save lives.”
Bob is a community volunteer who has helped to give out treatment for schistosomiasis in Bomo county. He is also a student, and so has to juggle his time between studying and volunteering. But Bob is happy to volunteer because he sees the importance of supporting his community’s health.
“I love the work, because it helps to save people. The work is important because it’s educational; it informs the community how they should live healthily.”
As schistosomiasis often affects young children, a lot of Bob’s work takes place in schools. “When we go there we call the administrator’s attention and we introduce ourselves to them. We tell them what we are doing there and why the children need to take the drugs. Then we work with them and do our drug distribution.”