Last month, the IMO team performed a rapid appraisal of primary and nursery school students in a rural community near Lilongwe, Malawi. In two days, local phlebotomists and employees of Child Legacy International helped the team collect over 200 blood and stool samples to ascertain the prevalence of intestinal parasites, anemia and malaria in the area. The height and weight of each child was also collected to find patterns in physical underdevelopment.
At this time of year, the Lilongwe district pulses a vibrant green under daily thunderheads. The rains fill the fertile farmlands that stretch for miles to the mountainous border with Mozambique. But a rapid appraisal can reveal a lot about what lies beneath this verdant surface: a high percentage of intestinal parasites, which stunt growth and lead to malnutrition. Where crops may grow healthfully and quickly, children might not.
Our initial analysis showed that 60% of our sample carried some form of parasite. An appraisal marks only the beginning to IMO’s collaboration in these communities to decrease these levels and improve the standard of health. The data gathered will establish a baseline of information from which a sound strategy of intervention may be realized. Next year, IMO plans to repeat the appraisal to track the success and failures of whatever strategy may be developed.
Below are some photos showing the process of gathering and analyzing the information.