Posted by: africanpressorganization | 21 April 2009

New IFRC report emphasizes the “forgotten component” of malaria prevention





New IFRC report emphasizes the “forgotten component” of malaria prevention



GENEVA, Switzerland, April 21, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Malaria will not be eradicated unless the distribution of mosquito nets is accompanied by extensive and prolonged community education and empowerment efforts, according to a new report issued today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“Since 2002, the distribution of long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets has increased ten-fold in sub-Saharan Africa”, begins “The Winning Formula to Beat Malaria”, a report issued to coincide with World Malaria Day (April 25). “Yet, malaria is still killing one million people every year (.)”

“Communities must own the response if malaria prevention is to be successful. Families at risk of being infected with the disease must know how to properly use nets and fully understand the risks they are taking if simple preventive steps are neglected,” says Jason Peat, head of IFRC global malaria programme in Geneva.

The report demonstrates how the combination of distributing mosquito nets and working closely with the affected communities is a winning formula in the fight against malaria. When communities are trained in prevention of malaria and are empowered to ensure effective use of mosquito nets then the impact is significant and lasting. Specifically, independent studies now show that preventive use of mosquito nets goes up between ten to twenty three per cent each time a volunteer from the affected community visits families that have received a net.

Most of time, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies organize “Hang Up” campaigns immediately after the distribution or shortly before the rainy season to make sure people who were given a net actually know how to use it.

“Statistics may fluctuate from one country to another depending on the type of comnunities reached by the campaigns.However, the report makes it clear that distributions will only successfully reduce malaria if they are complemented by the forgotten component of malaria prevention: door-to-door education and support,” says Jason Peat.

Eighty six per cent of malaria cases occur in Africa but it nevertheless remains a global problem also affecting countries in large parts of Asia and Latin America.

The report cites the malaria programme currently underway in parts of Haiti, where malaria is still endemic. “In Haiti, our volunteers based in the affected communities use the creole language to inform communities about the dangers of malaria. The fact that they come from the very same communities makes them more capable to understand and cope with social and cultural issues that might arise over the use of the nets,” concludes Jason Peat.

As a result of Red Cross / Red Crescent net distributions, since 2002 more than 289,000 malaria deaths have been averted, while 17.5 million people have been protected, the IFRC report also mentions.


International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)


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