October 28th, 2011 | 0 comments
During a volunteering trip to Tanzania with READ International I was part of a team which distributed books to schools. We also renovated a library at Kilakala Secondary School; an all girl’s boarding school in. We were pleased to see that each student had been provided with their own mosquito net to cover their bed. During the renovation we asked the girls to take part in the competition and they were very enthusiastic about the opportunity. We found out that the School had a Malaria Club, so we sat down with the student members and, although they were shy at first, they soon became more confident and a few days later the word of the competition had spread around the School and entries flooded in from all age groups. We received entries that were really informative and in some cases shocking. The young girls have experienced malaria first hand and write about it so casually that reading about the reality of it was upsetting. The essays showed their knowledge of Malaria, including statistics and data, showing the success of the Malaria Club. Some of the entries included drawings and animations which the students enjoyed producing. They loved having a chance to draw and express themselves in a way that they usually do not have the opportunity to do. The students put so much effort into the competition and presented their entries proudly with beautiful handwriting; this was a testament to their commitment and dedication to their studies. Overall, the content was well written and I enjoyed having a chance to read some of the students’ work and see the quality of their English writing. For us at READ the competition allowed us to be more involved with the students and gave us an insight into their abilities. The students had a great knowledge of Malaria which taught me a thing or two!
The competition touches on a really important issue in Africa and giving the students an opportunity to write about it helped them to remember the importance of prevention.
October 4th, 2011 | 0 comments
AMREF is Africa’s leading health charity, whose vision is lasting health change in Africa. They were founded in 1957 as the Flying Doctors Service of East Africa. They work across Africa, with major programmes in Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa, and expanding outreach into West Africa. One of AMREF’s main priorities is Malaria, and the treatment, prevention and education on malaria-related illnesses and deaths.
Snapshot on a project: Afar, Ethiopia
Afar is particularly prone to malaria, yet it only has two clinics to serve a population of 1.3 million people. Many are unaware of how to protect themselves against the disease and commonly available drugs have become less effective as people have grown resistant to them. AMREF works with the health system at all levels to:
- Increase the use of mosquito nets by pregnant women and young children
- Improve the quality of testing being carried out to diagnose malaria
- Develop systems that allow people to treat malaria with effective drugs in the home
- Educate communities about how to control the spread of malaria
- 99,000 mosquito nets have been distributed to pregnant women and young children in 11 districts – 99% of households in the project area have received two nets each
- Communities in these districts have been trained how to use their new mosquito nets and shown how they can help prevent malaria
- AMREF has trained 300 “mother coordinators” to help families protect themselves from malaria in their own homes. The project has expanded to cover new districts, protecting more vulnerable communities from malaria.
Have a look at the below blog post for one women’s story of AMREF helped her.
To find out more about AMREF and the work they do visit their website – www.amrefuk.org.
August 18th, 2011 | 0 comments
Tanzania House of Talent (THT) is a non-profit organisation working on enabling disadvantaged youths in Tanzania to develop talent in performing arts through a number of campaigns, one of which it ‘Z!nduka Malaria Haikubaliki.’
Launched in 2010, the objective of this innovative campaign is to create a call to action amongst the youth of Tanzania to adopt malaria prevention measures and become the catalyst of a society that no longer accepts malaria as a norm.
One of the most important and effective strategies in achieving their goals is using education to change attitude to the disease and implement effective interventions. Their work in 2011 has centred on the ‘Theatre in Education’ programme. Using music, dance and theatre, young people from the THT have held performances across Tanzania to 40,000 youths, exposing them to issues around malaria including effective prevention methods and seeking early treatment. THT has also conducted workshops with students giving them detailed information about malaria, and enabling discussion on the issues that affect them.
- THT youth performing for the Theatre in Education programme
The programme has also established 40 youth clubs across the country, training 930 youths with the skills and knowledge to get involved in the campaign themselves. The clubs have been instrumental in engaging and mobilising local residents and local government officers to continue the fight against malaria. Other Z!nduka club activities have involved malaria themed song contests, poster exhibitions and community workshops, and future plans involve a mentor scheme to engage primary school.
The Z!nduka malaria campaign is also involved in the governments’ Universal Coverage Campaign. The THT have been working with the Tanzanian Red Cross to implement the ‘Hang Up’ campaign, aiming to ensure all nets distributed are used correctly. This included Z!nduka goodwill ambassador Fid Q engaged in house to house visits, a free public concert and worked with local artists in Mwanza to provide information and motivation in the community.
Zinduka! Goodwill Ambassador Fid Q speaks to the crowd at a free public concert in Mwanza
To find out more about Tanzania House of Talent, and their work on malaria through the ‘Z!nduka Malaria Haikubaliki’ campaign, visit their website here.
The RCS is grateful to THT for their support for Me and My Net, and the Malaria Youth Summit in Dar es Salaam in July 2011.
July 8th, 2011 | 0 comments
Targeted Distribution or Universal Coverage?
It is often difficult to decide where nets go when the need for nets far exceeds the quantity we can fund.
Should 20,000 nets go to one country or 10,000 each to two countries? The dilemma is the same whatever the number of nets involved. Some people somewhere will remain unprotected from malaria whatever the decision.
The choice is particularly stark when deciding whether to focus on those most at risk from malaria—children under five years old and pregnant women—or instead to achieve universal coverage, which means every sleeping space is covered in a (smaller) area.
A real example: There are 500 nets in total available for five villages. Each village contains 1,000 people, among whom are 100 pregnant women and children under five. Do you protect all the under fives and pregnant women in all five villages or blanket cover one village, given two people sleep under each net?
Each method has its benefits.
The logic of protecting the most vulnerable is obvious: those most likely to contract malaria due to a less well-developed immune system (under fives) or weakened immune system (pregnant women) should be protected first. Their need is greatest and so they deserve our attention first.
The argument for universal coverage centres on the ‘mass-effect’ that occurs when 60% or more of sleeping spaces in a given area are covered. In such a circumstance, malaria rates fall dramatically because the pregnant female malaria-carrying mosquito population is denied its nightly blood meal. If these mosquitoes do not feed for 10-12 days they cannot reproduce. Fewer mosquitoes means fewer ways to get infected, which reduces the spread of malaria among net-users and non-net-users alike (see related links).
The advantages of universal coverage come not only from preventing the pregnant female mosquito feeding, but also from the involvement and engagement of an entire community in malaria prevention. It can have a dramatic effect with malaria case rates falling precipitously.
There is no one answer.
In recent years, the move has been to universal coverage given the often dramatic effect on an entire community. The intention, using the example above, would then be to come back to the other villages as soon as possible and universally protect them too. While there are not enough funds for nets this is not always possible. In the meantime, difficult choices remain.
This article was initially posted on the Against Malaria blog in January.
Against Malaria is a charity dedicated to empowering ordinary citizens to take responsibility for eradicating Malaria. You can find out more about them and their work here.
June 24th, 2011 | 1 comment
Adam Flynn is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Sumitomo Chemical, (Vector Control Division) a multinational company responsible for Olyset Net, an award-winning mosquito net. We caught up with him earlier this year to talk about his work with mosquito nets and their importance in the fight against malaria.
Working for a company that produces mosquito nets, you must be quite the expert. What makes a mosquito net special?
I know a thing or two, expert on nets thought I certainly am not ! Nets as most people know have actually been around for decades and traditional non insecticidal nets didn’t change much until the last ten years or so, when new technologies came onto the market and a new category of nets (Long Lasting Insecticide Nets) were born and really spearheaded the push for malaria prevention we have seen over the last 5 to 8 years.
Therein lies one of the great things about being involved in nets and malaria prevention at large at the moment, there are new technologies coming into play after so long, yet because most nets are donor funded, net manufacturers have to be innovative to meet the market and financial demands. That said, as I alluded to earlier perhaps the best thing about being involved in malaria prevention at the moment is looking back at the great strides that have been made over the last 5 years in net distribution, net education and ultimately malaria cases.
Nets are often described as the best form of malaria prevention. Why is this?
Quite simply they are the most cost effective form of malaria prevention, most nets cost less than $5 USD (in the donor and private markets for that matter) and most nets in the donor market provide at least 3 years protection.
How important do you think it is that nets are manufactured in the areas where malaria is most prevalent?
Very good question indeed. We at Sumitomo have been long term advocates of local manufacture, for a variety of reasons:
- Malaria is often termed a disease of poverty, therefore if economic development can be engendered by way of net manufacture then there is a double pay off of health and economic development and a sustainable model for malaria prevention can be found.
- Net manufacture can bring whole communities together around a health commodity and as we have seen in our own ventures this means that communities can be made very well aware of the benefits of net use.
- Having manufacturing capacity of nets where the nets are needed most means that a ready supply is always on hand. We have factories all over the world and we realise the value of cutting out long delivery times especially when dealing with life saving commodities.
- Most countries across the endemic world have a textile history some of which are very rich, so the skills are there to manufacture nets, so we see no reason why these local communities shouldn’t manufacture nets.
What are companies such as Sumitomo Chemical doing to help in the global fight against malaria?
The private sector contributes greatly to the global fight against malaria. Perhaps the main component of our support is to develop and manufacture new prevention tools, medicines and vaccines at invariably near to or no profit levels.
The private sector has a significant hand in the timely distribution of nets and drugs too.
The malaria community is now looking to industry primarily to look for solutions to insecticide and drug resistance too.
Finally as previously mentioned the private sector is in the unique position to initiate and encourage local employment through drug or net manufacture too.
What advice do you have for young people as risk from malaria?
Please use a net!
If you’d like to have your say in the global fight against malaria, be sure to enter the Me and My Net competition. Click here for all the info.