“You can make a song and dance of it”: a trustee’s perspective on Transaid’s programmes in Zambia

At the beginning of September, some of our trustees chose to travel to Zambia, where they were able to get a closer look at our programmes. Amongst this group was Bill Howie, Transaid trustee and CEO of Acqsys Supply Chain Solutions Limited. Here are his thoughts on the MAMaZ Against Malaria scale-up:

Usually, making a song and dance of something is associated with a long and elaborate explanation to justify it.  Well, here’s one instance where singing and dancing is not viewed by the audience with dismay.

I have just returned from a trip to Zambia to meet the teams on the ground   delivering essential support to people living in remote areas.  The programme is funded by Transaid, the charity of the UK transport industry and is based on bicycle ambulances and a network of volunteers who ensure pregnant women in remote communities are taken to a local medical centre to give birth under the care of professionals.

Building on that support network, Transaid now supports the circulation of Rectal Artesunate (RAS) which, when administered to children up to six years old, provides a window of time to get the child to the medical centre and a course of treatment, using the bicycle ambulances of course.  In the Serenje district, child mortality from severe malaria has dropped by 96 per cent.

In the past, the convulsions that grip the child in the latter stages were attributed to nearby witches and children didn’t receive treatment in time.  Now, a local drama group tours the communities and, through enacting the saving of one life using RAS and the loss of another through old beliefs, they are spreading the word and dramatically improving a child’s chances of survival.

I watched the group in action and it is very effective in getting the message across.  Nothing written, nothing transmitted, just passing on information in the simplest way-song and dance.  Quite humbling really.