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Couple fighting malaria on the banks of the Lui River

Mufalo and Mwitumwa Sitali are a husband-and-wife team who comprise the only trained medical staff at the rural health clinic in Lui River, Zambia.

A devoted duo

Serving over 5,000 people who live along the banks of the river, the scale of Mr and Mrs Sitali's task is enormous.

Still, this devoted duo, together with the support of community health volunteers, has so far had huge success in improving the health of their fellow community members.

The impact of their malaria work was instant; from the start of 2011, Mufalo and Mwitumwa saw a reduction in confirmed malaria cases from 200 or 300 a month to just eight.

Mr Sitali said: 'This gives us confidence to say together, as partners, we are doing a very commendable job to save lives.'

Mr and Mrs Sitali at Lui River's rural health clinic

Mufalo and Mwitumwa Sitali in the consultation room at Lui River's rural health clinic.

Clinic and community

It is Mufalo and Mwitumwa's partnership with Lui River's 20 community health volunteers that has been the key to the success of the clinic.

If a patient has a positive diagnosis, the volunteers quickly refer them to the clinic where treatment will start – this relationship between clinic and community is the real strength when it comes to fighting malaria.
As well as distributing mosquito nets, carrying out rapid diagnostic testing and referring those in need of treatment, the presence of health volunteers like Innocent Mulonda Mulonda in the community has helped considerably in raising awareness of malaria.

People are now more inclined to take their children or themselves to the clinic if they see any signs and symptoms - such as headache, vomiting and diarrhoea – and where previously many in Lui River were not even aware of the clinic, this simple but vital detail has made a huge difference.

'It makes us happy'

Mr Sitali credits Innocent and other community volunteers who, he says, 'have worked tirelessly to fight malaria in the community'.

Speaking about the success of the programme, Mr Sitali said: 'It makes us feel very happy, because the quality of life has improved and most people are now able to spend time in their own fields or doing other activities.

'This reduction could be the beginning of the end of malaria, which has been with us for decades, or rather centuries here in Africa.'

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Malaria control agents discover some damage to a mosquito net

Volunteer Kelezo captures her colleagues at work.

In pictures