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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Fighting malaria now door to door

25th April 2012

As the world marks Malaria Day today, an international lobby –“United Against Malaria” has unveiled door to door campaigns to educate the public, specifically in rural areas on the symptoms and proper treatment of the killer disease.

John Hopkins University’s Director of Projects Waziri Nyoni, revealed the plans in Dar es Salaam during the Private Sector Partnership Malaria Workshop as part of the activities ahead of WMD.

He said the campaigns had already kicked off countrywide specifically in rural areas in a move geared to reduce the number of malaria deaths by advocating and providing education to the people on symptoms and proper treatment.

Nyoni pointed out that the campaigns have started generating positive impacts as most of people in remote areas were currently getting malaria treatment at the right time compared to previous years where some people died of malaria due delay in getting treatment.

United Against Malaria’s Coordinator Michael Ngatunga said in line with World Malaria Day theme: “Sustain Gains, Save Lives : Invest in Malaria” malaria can be presented and treated through simple tools like mosquito nets, effective medicine and safe in door residual spraying.

Ngatunga said Tanzania has made a great strides in malaria control where by in October last year it completed universal coverage campaign that set out to cover every sleeping space with a long lasting insecticide treated net and investment in malaria control have created unprecedented momentum and yielded remarkable returns in the past few years.

“In the last two years more than 26.4 million nets were distributed free of charge to Tanzanians. Other malaria interventions are being rapidly scaled up across the country and the continued and expanded engagement of private contributors which will play a critical role in ensuring the long term success of fights against malaria” he said.

Meanwhile, National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) has requested the government to allocate 5.0bn/- in the coming financial year to fight malaria.

The NMCP Programme Manager in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Ally Mohamed told The Guardian said the fight against the disease would be won: “In order to sustain the Gains in the war against Malaria, all stakeholders including the media must remain vigilant in order to crowd out the use of mono-therapies and also educate people on the correct usage of treated bed nets and other interventions.”

He stressed that reduction of malaria deaths by a third over the last decade in Africa shows that investing in Malaria does bring results. It has also shown that these gains are fragile and will be reversed unless malaria continues to be a priority for decision-makers and donors.

However, Zanzibar’s Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr Mohamed Jidawi, said that the major task at the moment was to eradicate malaria completely.

Dr. Jidawi said: “Through Zanzibar Malaria Control Programme we were able to start a programme through mobile phones whereby new Malaria patients are able to be detected weekly in the affected zones.” For his part a senior public health official at Ifakara, Dr Boniface Idindili said, more than 20 health centers and dispensaries in the districts that were visited indicated a reduction of patients suffering from Malaria in last year.

Meanwhile NetsforLife, an initiative working to eliminate malaria in Africa, has nnounced that it has reduced the rate of the disease by 45 per cent in more than 5,000 communities across 17 sub-Saharan African countries. In Tanzania, a total of 155,020 Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets have been distributed to selected areas since 2006.

Through the financial support of its corporate partners Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil and Standard Chartered, the initiative has saved the lives of more than 100,000 children under five, saying it hopes its achievement inspires other corporate partners to join the fight to eliminate malaria.

NetsforLife has trained nearly 74,000 community volunteers to distribute nets and teach people how to prevent malaria, since it started in 2006, the statement said, adding that as a result, more than 8.5 million malaria nets have been delivered to communities where malaria is prevalent and 25 million people have been educated about the mosquito borne disease.

Through its network of local churches, faith-based groups and NGOs, NetsforLife can access remote communities typically unreached by national health programmes, the statement said. The initiative, however, depends on donations for malaria net distribution and malaria education campaigns.

Shaun Walsh, Executive Director of NetsforLife said: “Through the help of our donors and volunteers we have helped save the lives of thousands, who will go on to share their knowledge of malaria prevention with others. This is a phenomenal achievement and a testament to the impact we can make through partnerships.

However, there is still more work to be done. We hope our success will inspire other corporate donors to join us in our partnership to eliminate malaria.” NetsforLife is also seeing the benefits of community education which is leading to positive behavioral change around the use of life-saving malaria nets.

According to the initiative, more than 85 per cent of households in the communities where it operates now own at least two mosquito nets, compared to around six per cent of households in 2006.

Nine out of 10 people are aware that malaria is caused by a bite from an infected mosquito compared to four out of 10 people in 2006. NetsforLife has made a positive impact in Tanzania. Over 3,000 Malaria agents have been trained from 2006, and through working with the Malaria agents, 873,490 people have been sensitized and educated about Malaria prevention in Tanzania.

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