01 Jul 2016

Transferring Knowledge on Malaria

Transferring Knowledge on Malaria

Written by Victor Eka Nugrahaputra
Edited and translated by Australia Awards in Indonesia
Understanding malaria is not a simple matter. Even having served as a doctor—be it as a clinician or programmer—in the highly malaria-endemic area of West Papua Province for close to 20 years, does not mean that one has fully grasped the characteristics of malaria. Even if one has experienced firsthand numerous times what it’s like to be infected by tertiana and tropical malaria, it does not mean one knows everything about how to control malaria. And so, learning from the experts in each respective field becomes a humble outlook that everyone must have, even the experts, as they are not necessarily expert in every field.

That is what we learned while participating in the Australia Awards Malaria Prevention and Treatment for Infants, Children and Pregnant Women in Eastern Indonesia Short Term Award in Melbourne, 9-27 May 2016.
Lisa Davidson of the Burnet Institute, Melbourne, shared her experience in Home Malaria Management implemented in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. In the midst of the malaria crisis, limited infrastructure and health resources, the participation of the community became key. There are five key factors that need to be taken into consideration so that a program involving the community could be carried out effectively:

  1. Community engagement
  2. Integration into existing programs
  3. Sustainable training and support
  4. Quality assurance
  5. Local ownership.

Aside from stating that “indigenous knowledge sits in place”, Prof Kerry Arabena from the Indigenous Health Equity Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health (MSPGH), also elaborated on how collective impact can be realised when the indigenous community are invited to collaborate in solving issues, including malaria management. When working together with a certain community, the program, project, or horizontal intervention implementers were reminded of the key points encapsulated within the Taranaki Rules—amongst them being:

  1. I am a guest
  2. One day, I will be leaving this community
  3. Ninety percent of knowledge comes from the community, while I only possess 10%
  4. Therefore, I should speak only 10% of the time, while listening to the community the rest of the time
  5. Even so, four out of five of my dialogue should take the form of questions
  6. Do not forget to listen to the voice or opinion of marginalised groups
  7. Enquiries could be made using the following approach: "Would you be willing to share your story/opinion/experience with me/us?"
  8. A program, project or horizontal intervention shouldn't be too brief. Five years is ideal.

It isn’t necessary to teach the understanding of principles using a one-directional, rigid and serious method. On the contrary, key issues can be imparted through a participatory, interesting and fun method. Lisa Davidson used candies to illustrate the difference between qualitative and quantitative research.

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