Angola, 25 November 2010: UNICEF supports wider distribution of mosquito nets in Cunene Province
CUNENE, Angola, 25 November 2010 – It is early morning as Dr. Zepelin Leva and his colleagues load cars with bed nets and head inland in the southern Angolan province of Cunene.
Before the upcoming rainy season causes floods that make access difficult, the municipal health authorities distribute insecticide-treated mosquito nets to hospitals and health centres in the area. “It is a very difficult mission but also fun to go long distances, cross rivers and guarantee that children sleep under a mosquito net, protected against malaria,” says Dr. Leva.
Malaria is both preventable and treatable, and effective preventive and curative tools have been developed. There is evidence that mosquito nets, when consistently and correctly used, can reduce overall child mortality by 20 percent.
Reaching remote areas
With UNICEF support, mosquito net distribution is becoming easier in Cunene Province. The national malaria control programme now has vehicles and warehouse facilities to ensure that nets can be effectively delivered and stored in the province. Angola’s Civil Protection Committee provides planes to reach remote areas.
Each week, a team of five health workers visits communities in Cunene to distribute nets and educate local residents about malaria prevention.
“More and more people are now receiving and using bed nets,” says Dr. Leva. “We have seen a 15 percent increase compared to last year, and this makes us all very happy.”
Access to bed nets
At first, many rural dwellers – faced with a shortage of fishing gear – used the nets to catch food, but this has changed as the distribution team raises awareness about malaria. Angola’s malaria programme has developed a successful model for engaging with the communities, partnering with traditional authorities and local churches.
To improve bed net distribution, the programme has also launched a UNICEF-supported training initiative run by the non-governmental organization CESOR. The aim is to strengthen monitoring of mosquito net access and coverage across Cunene.
Says Dr. Leva: “With this programme, we are guaranteeing continuous training of our staff so we can be prepared to combat malaria.”
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