Distributing mosquito nets to help save lives in conflict-torn Central African Republic

Published: 7 March 2015 20:51 CET

By: Nelly Muluka, IFRC

Ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), which has rendered close to 850,000 people homeless, has also damaged the country’s health system, making it harder to combat malaria, a very preventable and treatable disease. At the Malimaka health facility in Bangui, health care staff see patients from as far as 13 kilometres away, with most of the consultations being malaria-related.

In one case the health facility had at least 1,687 suspected malaria consultations in one month, out of which 927 tested positive. According to Dr Godenaha Etienne who works at the health care centre, the area has been most greatly affected by the continuing violence and, as a result, there has been an extensive impact on the delivery of health services.

“For several months, 16 health facilities in this district were closed, except for this centre which continued serving patients with all types of ailments. Some of these facilities have reopened but the problem is that out of all of them, only two are recipients of the Global Fund malaria grant which is now being implemented by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).  Patients in the other places continue to suffer as a result of vandalism on health facilities and lack of health equipment and drugs,” says Dr Godehana.

The grant allows IFRC to distribute malaria rapid testing kits, malaria drugs for treatment, and mobile smartphones for data collection.

IFRC is also carrying out prevention activities under this same grant which include distributing over 2.2 million long lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets (LLINs) to the entire population of CAR (estimated at 4.6 million people) to achieve universal coverage, in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization.

In December 2014, IFRC, in partnership with the Central African Red Cross Society and the Ministry of Health, commenced the mass campaign distribution of LLINs. To date, 661,300 mosquito nets have been handed out in 11 sub prefectures, exceeding the planned implementation rate.

Given the context in the country and the fact that not all sub prefectures may be accessible for security reasons, IFRC has also been providing over 70,000 LLINs to partners for targeted distribution to pregnant women and children under five years of age.

In 2013, IFRC and Global Fund signed a grant agreement to combat the malaria crisis gripping the CAR. A further grant was also recently signed for HIV and Tuberculosis all totaling 19 million euros. The grant focuses largely on providing treatment and diagnostic capacities for the two diseases.