Meet Hannatou Abdou, a real-life hero protecting children from malaria

In this series, we’re profiling real-life superheroes who are fighting to end preventable diseases. Each one has an alter-ego from our quiz, “Which Lifesaving Superhero Are You?” Take the quiz to find out which hero you are.

Meet Hannatou Abdou, AKA Auntie Retroviral! Hannatou is harnessing the power of life-saving medicine to protect the world’s children from disease.

Hannatou Abdou is a community health worker in Danja, Niger. She’s on a mission to protect the children in her community from malaria. As a mother of four, she knows how vital it is to make sure every child receives the care they need.

“It is said you should love another person’s child as you love your own,” she says. “This is what drives me in the war against malaria, because the child of one mother is the child of every mother.”

Hannatou’s community encouraged her to become a health worker. Along with 700 other women from surrounding villages, she learned how to give preventative care against malaria. She volunteers for this work because she knows the impact of good health.

“Health is everything in life. With good health comes happiness. With good health comes peace, a rich family life, and a prosperous country. But without health, that all falls apart.”

Hannatou Abdou

Saving lives with SMC

During Niger’s rainy season, malaria infection rates are at their highest. When the rainy season starts, Hannatou meets with families who have young children. Under her care, they receive seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC), a treatment specifically designed to prevent children from catching the disease.

Protecting children is critical in the fight against malaria. And despite progress, cases of malaria are back on the rise after 10 years of steady decline. This is especially true for children under 5, who account for two-thirds of all malaria deaths. The preventative work that Hannatou does is protecting those most vulnerable to the disease.

Malaria cases in Danja have fallen dramatically since beginning this preventative treatment, but they’re not the only area benefitting. SMC is an easy treatment for health workers to administer, making it a sustainable solution in rural areas. Across Niger, 1.2 million children were protected from malaria through SMC.

While this progress is worth celebrating, there’s still a long way to go to end malaria. Hannatou is up to the challenge of making sure the disease is done for good.

“Until the day we end malaria, we won’t stop fighting. Not until it’s defeated.”

Are you super inspired by this hero? Click here to learn about four other awe-inspiring people who are fighting against preventable disease.


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