Power of Love’s malaria prevention program, Project Mosquito Nets, provides long lasting insecticide treated nets and education on malaria prevention to children and families vulnerable to the disease in Zambia. The goal of this program is to keep vulnerable children and families malaria-free.
Is Malaria Still a Problem?
Globally, malaria is a problem as there were an estimated 200 million cases of malaria and 600,000 deaths in 2013. Ninety percent of malaria deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and it is the leading cause of death for children under five. Over 400,000 children die needlessly every year from malaria which is easily preventable and treatable. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to malaria. In addition, malaria is the single biggest drag on Africa’s economy with estimated losses of $12 billion a year (a GDP growth of about 1.3% per year) due to increased healthcare costs, lost ability to work and effects on tourism. If we can eradicate malaria we can save thousands of lives and provide a boost to the African economies.
How do we eradicate malaria? According to the World Health Organization, sleeping under a mosquito bed net is one of the most cost effective and easiest ways to prevent malaria. Malaria has been eradicated in the US and it is possible to eradicate it worldwide.
Power of Love’s malaria prevention program is supported by several generous donors. The Power of Love team along with the families in Zambia, would like to say a big “Thank You” for supporting “Project Mosquito Nets”. Over the last ten years we have been able to provide over 20,000 nets and education on malaria prevention to families in Kenya and Zambia. At our most recent malaria prevention day in June 2015, we were able to provide 2000 long lasting insecticide treated nets to women and children vulnerable to malaria in Zambia.
Malaria Prevention Day 2015
Power of Love’s ‘Malaria Prevention Day’ was a tremendous success this year. On June 19, we gathered with the community in the Matero province of Lusaka, Zambia to encourage awareness and to distribute bed nets treated with long lasting insecticide. The event was attended by local leaders, healthcare professionals, the Power of Love field team and board of directors, community members, and representatives from churches, community organizations, and health clinics. Over 700 people were in attendance.
The festivities commenced with a prayer led by a local Pastor and the Power of Love team. Following the prayer was a lovely dance performance put on by the local schoolchildren.
From there, our Project Nurse commenced the more serious activities with a short talk on hygiene and health. This was followed by a presentation on malaria prevention and the proper use of treated mosquito nets given by healthcare professionals from local clinics.
Highlights of the education on malaria prevention included:
- Instruction on the removal of mosquito breeding sites, drainage maintenance, and the proper use and retreating of mosquito nets
- the proper way to clean and store nets so to prevent damage
- the negative impact malaria can have on pregnancy, e.g. maternal death, abortion, stillbirth and low birth weight
- information about malaria for HIV+ children
- identification of the signs and symptoms of malaria
Our Project Nurse explained that the best way to prevent malaria is to sleep under a net every night during malaria season, emphasizing the importance of keeping nets clean and properly stored. In addition, she underscored the importance of re-treating the net with insecticide every six months, which could be done at the Child Health Weeks held in June and December each year. She further informed the gathering that government clinics provide retreatment kits free of cost.
The Distribution of Nets
After the educational session was complete, we got down to the main event: distributing 2000 insecticide-treated nets to families in need. Most of the beneficiaries were HIV positive children, children under the age of five, pregnant mothers, and and adults with tuberculosis and/or HIV. In order to distribute the nets to those intended we working closely with several community organizations, such as Churches and government health clinics.
Malaria is the leading cause of death for children under 5. More than two million people died last year in Sub-Saharan Africa as a result of the disease, most of them children and pregnant women. Since 2005, Power of Love has been tackling the epidemic by spreading awareness, education, and insecticide treated bed nets.
A list of the organizations/beneficiaries with the number of nets provided is given below:
1. Children and families in Power of Love's programs - 490
2. Women in our micro loans program - 260
3. Families in the community of Matero - 150
4. Local Churches - 385
5. Health Clinics (George, Matero Main, Nakonga) - 175
6. Community Organizations - 440
7. Families of the POL team on the ground - 100
Total - 2000
Providing bed nets and education on malaria prevention has a definite impact in the community. As a result of our malaria prevention program, we have seen very few cases of malaria among our beneficiary families. In addition, we have seen a notable increase in school attendance due to improved health of the children. In the community as a whole, we are seeing fewer cases of malaria, increased knowledge about proper use and storage of nets, fewer hospital/clinic visits, improved school attendance, and improvements in quality of life and general well-being.
We will conduct a post-distribution study in September 2015 to assess the impact of nets on the incidence of malaria and on the health of the beneficiary families. In addition to the health of net recipients, this study will assess if the nets are being used every night, cleaned and stored properly, and re-treated every six months.
Need for Nets
Follow-up interviews with nets recipients indicate that the nets distributed over the last 2-3 years are in good condition and are being used as directed. However, we need several thousand more nets, as most residents in our community live on less than a dollar a day and cannot afford to purchase one for themselves.
According to the World Health Organization, 90 percent of families with a bed net use it. However, in 2013 only 50% of families in sub-Saharan African slept beneath a mosquito bed net. This highlights a need to provide nets to an additional 50% of the families in Sub-Saharan Africa - in other words, the need is for about 230 million bed nets from 2015-2017. A decrease in LLIN (long lasting insecticide treated nets) coverage can lead to a major resurgence of the disease and can reverse the progress made over the last several years.
Request for Funds
We are planning to distribute nets before the next malaria season in Zambia. At this time we are raising funds to provide 2000 long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLIN’s) in fall of 2015 and an additional 2000 nets in spring 2016. Please donate generously as your donation will go a long way in preventing malaria and keeping children healthy and in school.
Thank you for your dedication to keeping children healthy and malaria free.