Thousands Of Children Protected Against Malaria
Botswana, Gaborone, 28th February 2011: In a country where malaria elimination is a major goal, distribution of free Long-Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLIN) can not only save lives but also contribute immensely towards malaria elimination.
A public health priority for Botswana
Malaria is endemic in the northwest part of the Botswana, mainly in five districts: Okavango, Ngamiland, Chobe, Boteti and Tutume. According to the Malaria Indicators Survey (MIS) of 2007, in three of the five malaria districts, 9.4% of the households have at least one Insecticide Treated Net (ITN). Only 6.5% of children under five years of age and 3.8% of pregnant women used an ITN to protect themselves from Malaria.
LLIN Distribution Campaign
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with Clinton Foundation and UNICEF supported the Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLIN) distribution campaign in 2009. Over the past two years, more than 150, 000 Insecticide Treated Nets have been distributed in five high Malaria districts.
The campaign was first rolled out as a pilot project in the Okavango sub-district. About 33, 000 insecticide treated nets were distributed to the community. Almost 91% of the total sub-district population (53, 578 people) was covered by this distribution, including 16% of children under five years of age (8,937).
The results were immediate. The pilot project quickly scaled up the ownership of insecticide treated nets (ITN) in Okavango. It went from 12.6% of households owning at least one ITN in 2007 to 91% owning at least one ITN in 2009. Usage also increased. Almost 39% of the Okavango women were sleeping under a treated net after the campaign compare to 5.3% in 2007.
After the success of this first intervention, the Ministry of Health, with UNICEF providing communication support rolled out the campaign to four other districts (Ngamiland, Chobe, Boteti and Tutume). By the end of 2010, all five high Malaria districts were covered with free distribution of insecticide treated nets. UNICEF also facilitated dissemination of the Malaria Communication and Advocacy Strategy to Health Education Officers from the Health districts.
The success of this campaign is due to the good approach that was used. The free distribution of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets to mothers and children was strongly linked to an interactive communication strategy. The strategy combined education through edutainment and demonstrations.
The distribution campaign was supported by a group of 10 community-based drama performers who were trained by UNICEF and the local Health Education Assistants. The interactive performances portrayed messages on basic knowledge about malaria as well as demonstration of proper usage and care of treated bed nets.
To sustain the gains made by the project UNICEF will continue to support integration of the key malaria prevention interventions (indoor residual spraying and LLINs distribution) in the five endemic districts within the health care system. An evaluation of the 2010 distribution campaign will be done in 2011 and more nets will be made available to the communities in the affected districts.
UNICEF will also facilitate a process of community dialogue to identify issues related to low coverage of indoor residual spraying in the malaria endemic areas and will continue to facilitate procurement of quality LLINs by different partners on behalf of the Ministry of Health. UNICEF will also continue supporting the National Malaria Programme to implement the Malaria Communication and Advocacy Strategy for malaria elimination by 2015.