|© UNICEF/HQ98-0922/Giacomo Pirozzi|
|Inexpensive, locally available bednets (impregnated with insecticide) protect against mosquitos that carry malaria.|
By Blue Chevigny
A programme to provide bednets to prevent malaria in Tanzania, starting with the women and children, is a huge success.
KIBAHA, Tanzania, 3 May 2005 – In hospitals all across Kibaha District, women have been given access to subsidized bednets designed to protect them and their children against malaria.
These women are part of a pilot programme sponsored by UNICEF and implemented in hospitals through the region. The women are given a voucher and can purchase the insecticide-treated bednets at a greatly reduced price. Word of mouth has spread quickly about the voucher programme.
The rate of malaria in the area has already decreased in the short two-year period that the program has existed. Dr. Bernard Shija of Tumbi Hospital in Kibaha says, “In the year 2003 we had four deaths related to malaria in pregnancies, but in the year 2004, we had none.”
Most participants seem to like the voucher system, even though it means the programme does not provide the nets free of charge. Pregnant mother Zainab Hashimu says, “this is a good system because it means mothers can afford nets. If the nets were free, people might abuse the system and not use them. Some people may just sell them to make money.”
The UNICEF pilot programme in Kibaha has been so successful that the Tanzanian health ministry is now rolling it out across the country. Malaria claims more claims more than a million lives worldwide each year and hampers development, especially in Africa.