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More than 500,000 mosquito nets distributed to children under five years old

© UNICEF/MOZA/01729/G.Pirozzi
Filomena Ernesto, 21 year-old, receives a insecticide treated mosquito net from nurse Francisca Vitoria in a Health Post in Xai-Xai, province of Gaza.

Maputo, 9 November 2007 – A wide-ranging campaign to distribute over 500,000 mosquito nets is currently underway in Mozambique, from October through December, in five of the country’s provinces. The campaign this year coincides with SADC Malaria Day (Southern African Development Community) which brings together countries in the region to celebrate efforts in the struggle against malaria.

The distribution of the mosquito nets complements the spraying campaigns led by the Ministry of Health – which covers about 42 per cent of the population throughout the country – and prioritises remote communities in rural areas not covered by the spraying in Niassa, Cabo Delgado, Tete, Zambézia, Inhambane and Gaza provinces, with priority given to children under five years old.

The campaign is supported by the United States President’s Malaria Initiative, the British Department for International Development (DFID) and UNICEF. It also receives technical support from the Malaria Consortium, Population Services International (PSI).

UNICEF has been supporting the distribution of mosquito nets in Mozambique since 2000 as part of a strategy that empowers communities by giving them the means to deal with malaria prevention themselves. Since then, more than 1.5 million nets have been distributed with the support of UNICEF to pregnant women and children under the age of five. This is out of a total of around 2.5 million nets distributed in the entire country by various partners. 

During the campaigns, the mosquito nets are distributed free of charge to children under five years old, alongside other health interventions, such as vitamin A supplementation, as part of an integrated management of neonatal and childhood illnesses strategy .

In addition, the mosquito nets are distributed free of charge to pregnant women during ante-natal consultations in almost all the country’s provinces. They are also made freely available to orphaned and vulnerable children, and to people living with HIV and AIDS, through community-based organisations. 

Malaria is the largest cause of death among children in Mozambique. Based on the available data, it is estimated that about 36,000 children die every year because of malaria. Malaria is also responsible for 40 per cent of outpatient consultations and 60 per cent of hospitalisations of children under five.

It is expected that by the end of 2008 the mosquito nets will have reached all children under five in those parts of the country that have not been sprayed, which is about two million children. It is also expected that by the end of 2008 all pregnant women in Mozambique will receive free of charge a mosquito net treated with long lasting insecticide.

UNICEF also supports social mobilisation activities to prevent malaria in the communities – an important component of the national malaria control programme implemented by the Health Ministry – for which the media have a fundamental role to play.

In this context, and as part of the celebrations of SADC Malaria Day, UNICEF organised at the start of this week a meeting with Mozambican journalists who are members of the recently created African Media and Malaria Research Network.

Based on an analysis made by UNICEF on the trends and gaps in the coverage of malaria by the press, the meeting debated how the media can better collaborate in supporting interventions responding to this endemic disease, in educating communities on the best hygiene and prevention practices, and on the treatment options available.

 

 
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