Mosquito nets effective in the fight against malaria

Published: 11 February 2011

If mosquito nets use works in Nigeria, it can work elsewhere

Geneva, 11 February 2011 -The Alliance for Malaria Prevention is meeting in Geneva to take stock of how, among other issues, Nigeria as one of the first countries in Africa to offer universal coverage of treated mosquito nets to all, can replicate such success elsewhere in the continent.

About 25 per cent of Africa’s malaria burden sits in Nigeria. All 153 million Nigerians and inhabitants are estimated to be at risk of malaria. The disease claims the lives of one in every three children who died prematurely. At least 50 per cent of the population will have one attack of malaria each year while children that are aged below 5 years (about 24 million) will have two to four attacks of malaria annually.

To tackle a disease which is a constant worry to each Nigerian, the country has become a key battleground in the fight against malaria and partners have come together to take a stance. Funding to support malaria prevention programming has been provided by DFID, USAID, the Global Fund, Malaria consortium and the World Bank. Additionally, the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is providing technical assistance while implementation support is carried out by the national malaria control program.

To reduce the number of people being bitten and to ensure better protection, the partnership provides mosquito nets to be distributed cost-free to households in Nigeria. About 29 million nets have been already distributed in 17 States out of a total of 63 million planned to cover 32 million households nationwide by August 2011.

“It is an unprecedented mobilization. We had to stockpile the nets, engage in a major communications campaign to mobilize people, and plan effectively to ensure that as many people as possible have access to nets. With the support of the Rollback Malaria Partnership to the government of Nigeria, the campaign has been successful so far. There is definitely power in partnership” says Chioma Amajoh, Head of Integrated Vector Management Branch, National Malaria Control Program (NMCP).

The main challenge is encouraging behavioral change amongst people vulnerable to malaria so that they continue to use the nets years after the campaign has ended. The lifespan of the net typically lasts three years.

“The efforts in Nigeria represent our greatest achievement to date to end deaths of malaria worldwide. This success story is being replicated across the continent. Now it is equally critical to sustain these efforts as we see the results very clearly: a reduction in malaria cases and death as reported by the WHO in December. Despite our difficult economic environment, now is the moment to double our efforts. An end to malaria deaths by 2015 is truly within sight,” said Suprotik Basu, Managing Director, Office of the UN Secretary General, Special Envoy for Malaria.

Rollout is already taking place outside Nigeria to offer universal coverage of mosquito nets to all. Replicating the same elsewhere and learning from the Nigeria experience will mean that millions of lives can be saved.

As George Greer, President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) at USAID, member of the Alliance for Malaria Prevention, puts it: “This Alliance has brought together an extensive and unique set of partners to address issues of expanding the use of mosquito nets to protect families and particularly children and pregnant women. This is an approach that has already shown significant reduction in malaria in many countries in Africa. Our role in bringing partners together and providing technical leadership has been vital to achieving national goals towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals.”

Representatives from Nigeria as well as 120 other member participants from the Alliance for Malaria Prevention are currently gathered at a meeting hosted by the IFRC in Geneva, to define improved mechanisms for expanding the ownership and use of mosquito nets.


For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

Sadia Kaenzig, IFRC, senior health communications advisor, Tel.:  +41792173386, sadia.kaenzig@ifrc.org

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