Mallam Bala Isah, Nigeria
Taking a leading role in improving peoples' health
As head of his village, Mallam Bala Isah has learned a great deal about health promotion and is using his position to make sure everyone in his community benefits
More about this health hero
Mallam Bala Isah is known for taking the lead on handling affairs that concern his village. His primary role is to serve as a gate keeper to his village. Anyone seeking to come to the village to carry out any form of awareness raising or intervention programme in Kadawa Ciki has to go through him. He is also the middle man between the District Head of Garun Mallam and the community members of Kadawa.
Mallam is the head of Kadawa Ciki village and he has gathered a lot of experience carrying out public health interventions at the community level. Getting involved in the health sector came naturally for him: "My people are my responsibility; if my people are happy, I will also be happy," he says.
As head of the village, Mallam is responsible for knowing how many households his community has, how many people live in the community, where the boundaries surrounding the village lie, and much more. In turn, the ministry of health uses this information to implement various health interventions
Mallam ensures that all members of his community have access to health care and that all facilities provided by the ministry of health are distributed evenly. He cites a perfect example: the long lasting insecticide treated net (LLIN) distribution campaigns that took place in 2009 in Kano State. He says that while distribution of nets was ongoing, word got to him that a certain village had run short. He took responsibility for obtaining nets from another village where LLINs were in excess so that he could deliver them to the village that had a shortfall.
"I am so happy when my people are happy," he says.
He is filled with joy when he finds out that a health programme is being brought to his community because he understands that when members of his community have access to healthcare, there will be less sickness and death. He adds that since they received the nets there has been a notable reduction in the incidence of malaria and no child has died of malaria complications since LLINs where distributed in Kadawa Ciki.
Mallam says he is looking forward to the time when there is enough support for everyone to receive a net each, which would help consign the high malaria incidence in Nigeria (and Africa as a whole) will be a thing of the past. With time running out on the Millennium Development Goals, Mallam also wants to common but preventable diseases, such as malaria and polio, eradicated completely from Nigeria.