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Fight the Bite: Malaria Prevention Workshops for Youths in West Africa


Although malaria is preventable and treatable, each year more than 500 million acute cases occur and 1 million people die of the disease worldwide. For Schlumberger, a company that operates in approximately 80 countries, many of them in malarial zones, the fight against the potentially deadly disease is ongoing.

As part of that effort, 190 people—children, employees, Schlumberger Spouses Association members, clients, and members of local communities—gathered on World Malaria Day to kick off HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment) for Youth malaria prevention workshops at five Schlumberger locations in West Africa.

"The workshops constitute an important awareness-raising tool," said Brian Groody, head of the Schlumberger Malaria Task Force. "By educating youth about malaria and how easily it can be prevented and treated, we empower young people to boost prevention in their homes and communities."

The workshops, led by trained HSE for Youth volunteers, took place in Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, and Nigeria. "I was surprised to learn that the disease is transmitted by female mosquitoes that bite mostly at night," said one of the participating youths. "Now I can tell my family and friends of this fact. Maybe this will save some lives."

HSE for Youth focuses on seven areas where Schlumberger can share its HSE expertise—injury prevention, road safety, personal security, malaria prevention, HIV/AIDS awareness, water, and climate change.

"By sharing our HSE knowledge and expertise with children, we reinforce the concept among employees," said Piers Temple, Schlumberger country manager, Chad. "In this way, malaria prevention can become a habit for the entire family."

These workshops reinforce the company-wide malaria prevention program that was launched in 2003 and has proved effective in reducing malaria fatalities within the company—from four in the preceding two-year period, to two over the past five years.

"People tend to forget about the dangers of malaria," said Dr. Uche Okorocha, Schlumberger health advisor in West Africa. "Thus ongoing awareness about the practice of malaria prevention strategies is vital." Dr. Okorocha also noted the importance of the Schlumberger malaria online training, curative kits, and use of four-point impregnated bednets.

To take an additional sting out of malaria and further build prevention awareness, long-sleeved "stop mosquitoes!" t-shirts are being distributed to employees this year.

"The t-shirts are treated with a repellent that paralyzes the mosquitoes on contact," explained Dr. Alex Barbey, International Health Coordinator. "The shirts are a safe and simple method of preventing malaria and their protection lasts for more than 60 washes."

HSE for Youth is an outreach program launched in 2008 in which employees share their knowledge of HSE topics with Schlumberger families and the communities where we live and work.
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