BLANTYRE, MALAWI –
Malawi has started mass distribution of mosquito nets to reach nearly half of the country’s 18 million people. According to health officials, the campaign aims to contain the spread of malaria, which currently accounts for 36% of all outpatients and 15% of hospital admissions in Malawi.
The Global Fund-backed campaign was announced during the commemoration of Southern Africa’s Development Community Malaria Day on November 6th and is expected to launch nationwide on November 15th.
Malawi Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda says the intervention is a response to the health threat malaria poses in Malawi.
“One of the interventions is the distribution of the networks as a vector control. As a country, we will distribute 9 million networks. Our goal is for at least two Malawians to share a network. Our population that we are targeting is around 18 million, so we have reached 9 million, ”said Kandodo-Chiponda.
She said that during the campaign, all expectant mothers would be given anti-malarial medication to prevent them from developing malaria while pregnant.
Statistics show that malaria is the No. 1 deadliest disease in Malawi. In the past year alone, malaria killed 2,500 people in Malawi, more than any other disease, including COVID-19.
However, Kandodo-Chiponda said the campaign was littered with challenges.
“And one of the challenges is that as you distribute the nets you will find that these nets are mostly used for fishing and other things along the lake,” she said.
In order to reduce the changes in such abuse of the network, the campaign also includes conveying to the recipients the importance of sleeping under the network.
The distribution of mosquito nets is part of the Zero Malaria Starts With Me campaign, launched in June by Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera as part of the global campaign to end malaria by 2030.
Elias Mpedi Magosi, executive secretary of the Southern Africa Development Community, praised Malawi’s efforts to eradicate malaria and said the bloc was working to adopt a regional malaria strategy.
“First and foremost because when one country, one Member State, eliminates or eliminates malaria, these mosquitoes know no borders, they simply move to another country. So it requires pooled regional efforts, resources, attributes and behaviors for it to be eliminated, ”said Magosi.
Janet Kayita, the World Health Organization country representative in Malawi, said the campaign was one of the most important steps Malawi has successfully taken against malaria.
“Malawi has implemented the WHO recommendations on measures, malaria prevention and malaria treatment excellently. But the most historic landmark event in the last month with Malawi at the forefront is the information that comes out about the new malaria vaccine for infants and children, “said Kayita.
Last month, after a successful three-year study in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, the WHO approved the world’s first malaria vaccine for children across Africa.
Although only 30% effective, scientists say the vaccine known as Mosquirix will have great effects against malaria in Africa, which has 200 million cases and 400,000 deaths each year.