Power of Love’s malaria prevention program or Project Mosquito Nets, provides long lasting insecticide treated nets and education on prevention of malaria to children and families vulnerable to malaria in Zambia. The goal of this program is to keep vulnerable children and families free of malaria.
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.
A brief report of the distribution day activities is given below.
Power of Love’s annual malaria prevention day was held on June 19, 2015. The activities commenced with a prayer led by the Pastor, and the Power of Love team on the ground in Lusaka, Zambia. The prayer was followed by a lovely dance performance by the local school children.
The event was attended by local leaders, health care professionals, Power of Love team on the field, members of the Power of Love Board, and representatives from Churches, community organizations and health clinics, and community members. The event was held at the community center in Matero and was attended by about 700 people.
Power of Love Foundation's Project Nurse commenced the health/malaria education part of the day’s activities by giving a short talk on hygiene and health. This was followed by education on malaria prevention and the proper use of nets by health care professional from local clinics. Highlights of the malaria prevention education, (led by a Nurse from Matero Clinic) included:
- proper use of mosquito nets, drainage maintenance, filling and removal of breeding sites, re-treating of mosquito nets,
- maintenance of nets (cleaning and storage) to prevent damage,
- negative impact of malaria in pregnancy e.g. maternal death, abortion, still birth and low birth weight,
- information about malaria for HIV+ children,
- identification of signs and symptoms of malaria, and
- proper storage of nets when not in use.
The Nurse explained that the best way to prevent malaria was to sleep under a net every night during malaria season. In addition, she underscored the importance of re-treating nets every six months, which could be done during the Child Health Weeks held in June and December each year. She informed the gathering that government clinics provide re-treatment kits free of cost. The Nurse also emphasized the need for keeping nets clean and stored properly.
After the education on malaria prevention and demonstration on the proper use and maintenance of nets, long lasting insecticide treated netswere provided to 2000 families in the Matero compound in Lusaka, Zambia. This compound is one of the largest and most impoverished compounds in Lusaka with a population of 250,000-300,000. Many parts of Matero are water logged and have sewer ponds, leading to a high prevalence of malaria. A high incidence of HIV and TB in the community, increases the vulnerability of the population to malaria due to high co-infection rates between these diseases. In addition, HIV+ pregnant women are especially vulnerable as malaria can be fatal for them.
Profile of Beneficiaries: Beneficiaries were children and families in Power of Love’s paediatric HIV care program, women vulnerable to malaria in Power of Love’s microloans program and children who attend the Safe Park program and members of the community who are vulnerable to malaria. In order to identify and distribute nets to the intended beneficiaries we worked with several community organizations such as Churches, and government health clinics, and other community organizations.
Most of the beneficiaries were HIV positive children, children under the age of five, pregnant moms, women who are breast feeding and adults who are infected with TB and/or HIV. These sections of the population are most vulnerable to malaria as their immune system is compromised, and because co-infection rates between malaria, HIV and TB are very high. A total of 2000 long lasting insecticide treated nets were provided to various community organizations (Churches, local Police department, schools), and families vulnerable to malaria.
Impact of the Distribution: Provision of bed nets and education on malaria prevention and proper use and maintenance of nets goes a long way in reducing the incidence of malaria in the community. As a result of our malaria prevention program, we are seeing very few cases of malaria among our beneficiary families. In addition, we are seeing an 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 visits to the hospital/clinics, improved school attendance, and a higher quality of life and general well-being.
Follow-Up Study: We will conduct a post distrbution study in September 2015, to assess the impact of nets on the incidence of malaria and on the health of the beneficiary families. This study will assess: if the nets are being used every night, used and stored properly, re-treated every six months, and health of the beneficiary families. For results of past follow-up studies click here.
Need for Nets: Follow-up interviews with nets recipients indicates 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 a net.
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. The need is for about 230 million bed nets on average from 2015-2017. A decrease in LLIN (long lasting insecticide treated nets) coverage can lead to a major insurgence of the disease and can reverse the gains achieved over the last several years.
Next Distribution of Nets: We are planning on the next distribution of nets before the next malaria season in Zambia.
Request for Funds: 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.
Thanks for your caring and dedication to prevent malaria in Zambia.