Marlene Álvarez is a 46-year-old community health worker from Trio Village, a Mayan community in southern Belize. For the past 13 years, Marlene has collaborated with the Belize government to lead malaria and dengue fever elimination efforts in her community.
Marlene’s family, originally from Guatemala, took asylum in Belize when she was 8 years old. From a very young age, Marlene decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and became a health worker.
“I started by learning from my mother. I saw how she spoke to our neighbors about their health problems and how much she loved to help them and enjoyed her work.”
Marlene educates community members about how to prevent malaria and dengue, and works with the local health center to coordinate diagnostic testing for those showing symptoms.
“I would say it’s a 24/7 job. Everyone knows me and they know where I live. Everyone knows they can come to me if they have any symptoms. … If [the diagnostic test] is positive, we follow up with proper treatment.”
It’s been over three years since Marlene has seen a positive malaria test.
“We are excited that we have eliminated malaria in the country. But we must continue working hard to avoid another outbreak. This is why we still have ve volunteer collaborators and two community health workers. We have reached our goal and now we must preserve it. We don’t want anyone to have malaria.”
Marlene and Trio village are featured in this video.