Celebrities Visit URC's ProMPT Project for Malaria Control in Ghana

Ms. Katharine McPhee, star of the TV show Smash and an American Idol runner-up, recently visited the Promoting Malaria Prevention and Treatment (ProMPT) project in Ghana, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI). ProMPT, managed by University Research Co., LLC, is working to promote malaria prevention and treatment throughout Ghana. Ms. McPhee is a spokesperson for Malaria No More (MNM), an international non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to supplying everyone at risk for malaria in Africa with a mosquito net and to sustainably ending malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.

During her recent trip to Africa with MNM, Ms. McPhee visited the town of Aburi in Ghana's Eastern Region, where she saw first-hand the work that ProMPT has done in partnership with national and international organizations like MNM to control malaria.  Malaria poses serious health risks to Ghana and is the cause of more than a third of child deaths in the country. Ms. McPhee's visit was heavily covered in the media, including by People Magazine and the Daily Mail.

While in Aburi, Ms. McPhee attended a durbar, a traditional gathering of leaders – chiefs, queen mothers, and other dignitaries – and the public to learn of important news and events. The Municipal Health Directorate and ProMPT helped organize the durbar and ProMPT's social mobilization advisor Mr. Maurice Ocquaye served as one of the masters of ceremonies. At the event, the chief greeted Ms. McPhee, USAID and ProMPT officials, and other participants and encouraged the entire village to sleep under mosquito nets every night. Also, a local NGO performed a drama to educate the public on malaria; PROMPT trained the NGO, along with 32 others, to engage communities in malaria prevention and control. 

Ms. McPhee also visited an antenatal clinic where pregnant women receive malaria-preventing drugs. ProMPT trained more than 9,000 Ghanaian health care providers in preventing and treating malaria during pregnancy.

Two weeks prior to Ms. McPhee's visit, ProMPT helped organize another MNM celebrity visit to Ghana for Ms. Martha MacCallum, co-anchor of America's Newsroom on the FOX News Channel, and Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator and head of PMI. The visit was featured on FOX News.

ProMPT has supported thousands of durbars throughout Ghana to mobilize communities to take action against malaria by sleeping under long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), recognizing symptoms of malaria, taking malaria medications, and attending antenatal care for malaria prevention. ProMPT also supported a door-to-door LLIN hang-up campaign in 2011, when nearly 4200 community volunteers distributed and hung more than 1 million LLINs in more than 600,000 households in the Eastern region.

Door-to-door LLIN hang-up campaigns provide opportunities that other distribution strategies do not: while hanging bed nets over sleeping places, volunteers also inform residents about the benefits of routinely sleeping under the nets and teach people how to care for them. The evaluation of a similar campaign in Ghana's Northern Region in 2010 showed that ownership of insecticide-treated nets more than doubled.

ProMPT and its partners, the Malaria Consortium and Population Council, have worked with Ghana's National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) since 2009 to strengthen malaria prevention and control and scale up evidence-based malaria interventions. The project is building the NMCP's capacity and effectiveness and is engaging NGOs, communities, and the private sector to broaden the program's reach. ProMPT's main components include developing effective systems to distribute LLINs and promote their use, improving the quality of malaria diagnosis and treatment and malaria in pregnancy services, strengthening monitoring and evaluation for the collection and analysis of accurate data, building capacity of NGOs to implement community-based malaria activities, mobilizing broad sectors of civil society for malaria prevention and control, and extending malaria classification and treatment through community case management.

A local chief and government official presents Ms. Katharine McPhee with an honorary gift. Ms. McPhee helped hand out bed nets through MNM. Photo credit: Akua Frimpomaa Titus-Glover, ProMPT.
A local chief and government official presents Ms. Katharine McPhee with an honorary gift. Ms. McPhee helped hand out bed nets through MNM. Photo credit: Akua Frimpomaa Titus-Glover, ProMPT.
Date 
April 03, 2012
Authors 
Nancy Newton, Sr. Advisor, Behavior Change and Communication, and Kate Howell, Knowledge Management Specialist
Regions/ Countries