Sarah Hamissou is 9 years old and lives in Damagaram Takaya, a village in the Zinder region of southern Niger. Like other children her age, she goes to school, plays with her friends and spends time with her family, including her 5-year-old brother Rayan and her mother Mariama.
All of that stopped last year when Sarah fell ill from malaria, suffering from a high fever and other symptoms. Mariama knows that malaria can be fatal if untreated, so she sought and received care for her daughter. But she also worries that Sarah and her other two children will fall ill again, like some 7 million others in Niger each year. In a country of only 25 million people, this disease takes an enormous toll, getting in the way of learning, playing and growing.
SMC is a vital intervention that has been implemented in 17 African countries to protect children in areas where malaria is highly seasonal. In 2021, nearly 4.5 million children in Niger were protected with SMC; this number increased to 4.7 million in 2022.
The updated WHO recommendation means that in some locations, SMC can now be extended to protect older children – like Sarah and Rayan.