This work was designed to study the contribution of women in central Sudan in the control and management of malaria
with particular emphasis on gender-related aspects that define women's role and participation. The Blue Nile Health Project (BNHP 1980–1990) was launched in 1980 mainly for control of water associated diseases in central Sudan.
The BNHP model was chosen to conduct this work. The study showed that women were actively involved in the implementation of the BNHP strategies as health instructors (murshidat) who constituted 75% of the staff of BNHP unit of health education, as members of village health committees (VHC) where they constituted 40% of the VHC members and also as recipients of the project services. All murshidat were interviewed whereas multistage random sampling for VHC members and recipient women in 40 villages was used to select a sample which was interviewed.
The results showed that the murshidat and VHC women members played a major role in the motivation, organization and health education of local communities prior to campaigns of environmental sanitation and vector control. Household commitments and difficulties in communication with the public were the main gender-related factors that contributed negatively to women's activities. Cases of malaria have more considerable socio-economic impact than other common diseases, especially with regard to women's household commitments and work. Recipient women were more concerned with aspects of self-protection, management of family cases of malaria and health education programmes.
They were less involved in drying mosquito breeding sites and spraying activities of insecticides which had been reluctantly accepted because of allergy and bad odour. Although the majority of women considered antimalarial to be less harmful than effects of malaria itself on pregnancy, they did not realize the role of malaria chemoprophylaxis during pregnancy. This needs more health education.
The study showed that the BNHP programme was very successful in recruiting women in control and management programmes. Therefore, health planners are urged to persuade the subordinated communities of women in many African countries like Sudan to play a more active role in the health programmes and welfare of their communities.