Impact of COVID: The COVID virus has had a disproportionately higher impact on vulnerable populations and developing countries. According to Bill Gates, this year we are amid “mutually exacerbating catastrophes”. In public health, we have been setback by 25 years, as people are not seeking health care and receiving life-saving services such as vaccinations. Further, according to the WHO, disruption to anti-malaria programs due to COVID could cause deaths from malaria to double in Sub-Saharan Africa. Progress in the fight against malaria has stalled at the same time as mosquitoes and parasites gain resistance to treatment. In 2020 and 2021, there is an urgent need to escalate preventive measures that include mosquito bed nets and spraying homes with insecticides.
Malaria in Zambia: Malaria transmission rates are high in all areas in Zambia, due to high co-infections rates between HIV and malaria, water logging, and poor sanitation. One-third of households do not have access to even one net and the remainder may need more than one net per household. Also, less than 50% of children under five sleep under a net, even though malaria can be fatal for young children. Pregnant women living with HIV are also highly vulnerable to malaria infection and death.
Our Response to the crisis: According to the USAID, it is possible to eliminate malaria from Zambia in the next 2-3 years. To help eliminate malaria from Zambia, 6000 long lasting insecticide treated nets and education on malaria and COVID is being provided this month. Trained health care professionals provide health education and information about malaria and COVID. Topics discussed during the education session include:
hygiene, drainage maintenance, filling and/or removal of mosquito breeding sites,
proper use and maintenance of nets (cleaning and storage) to prevent damage,
negative impact of malaria in pregnancy,
information about malaria for HIV+ children,
identification of signs and symptoms of malaria, and
information regarding regular re-treatment of nets, cost, and location.
information on how to prevent COVID
All protocols for COVID prevention are followed during the provision of nets and education. Beneficiary communities were selected based on need and transmission rates of malaria. Direct beneficiaries are young children, children and adults living with HIV, older people, people suffering from TB, and pregnant women.
With your support, 11,000 long lasting insecticide treated nets and education benefitting approximately 44,000 children or 22,000 adults (as each net can sleep four young children or two adults) have been distributed in 2020.
Next steps: Our plan is to provide 12,000-15,000 long lasting insecticide treated nets and education in 2021.
Stay safe. We are all in this together.
Thanks for keeping children and families free from malaria and COVID-19.