The National Malaria Control Program, Speak Up Africa, and Rhythm & Remedy (where Hip Hop Helps), have come together as part of the Heartbeat Project to educate young musicians about the importance of the malaria fight in Senegal. The Heartbeat project is an innovative music workshop with weekly guest speakers who assist the students with valuable tools, methods and skill sets they have utilized in their own successful careers. These speakers provide tactics, techniques, hands on assistance and hope to young aspiring artists who have been inspired to jump-start their own independent careers. Each course is four weeks, with 3 sessions each week.
On Monday, July 20th 2015, eight enthusiastic students hailing from Comoros, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, and Tchad began their course on Malaria. Technical experts from the NMCP and Speak Up Africa spent the afternoon leading a session about all aspects of malaria prevention, treatment and care.
The training session was energetic; with lively discussions surrounding the definition of malaria, when individuals are susceptible to contracting malaria, when and how long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets should be used, and environmental issues increasing the rate of contracting malaria. The discussion also included ways in which the students can address these issues within their own communities. The musicians were knowledgeable and participatory, consistently providing comments about their own experiences, and asking for clarification for any misconceptions.
As a part of this course, the students joined Zero Malaria! Count Me in Campaign, launched on April 25, 2014, World Malaria Day, with the support and endorsement of the Minister of Health and Social action, Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck. Zero Malaria! Count Me In is a multi-sectoral campaign, which aims to start a national movement for malaria elimination in Senegal.
Students will now use the now use their skills, including songwriting, singing, piano, rap, and guitar in the electronic studio set up at the Give 1 Project offices to complete their course and write a hit song spreading the word about malaria in Senegal. Once finalized, this song will be shared with workshop facilitators and distributed throughout the community. At the end of the workshop all gave thanks for the initiative, and stated how eager they were to participate and continue their support for a malaria-free Senegal.