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Lere long lasting insecticide net (LLIN) distribution

A woman in Lere community in Nigeria receives a long lasting insecticide net that will protect her and her children from malaria
© UNICEF Nigeria/2010/Nwosu
A woman in Lere community, Nigeria, receives an insecticide treated bed net during the distribution exercise while representatives from UNICEF Nigeria and the Japan International Cooperation Agency observe.

By Geoffrey Njoku


Kaduna, 26 June 2010 - Malaria remains a major public health problem in Nigeria. An estimated 300,000 children under five years old die of malaria each year, and up to 11% of maternal mortality is caused by the disease—translating into one in every four deaths of children and one in ten deaths of pregnant women.

Many lives could be saved if all children under five and pregnant women slept under long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets (LLINs). It’s that simple and cost-effective. Many lives could be saved if all children under five and pregnant women slept under long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets (LLINs). It’s that simple and cost-effective.

Nigeria hopes to reduce the burden of malaria by half at the end of 2010 and one of its strategies is to distribute and ensure the use of 63 million LLINs to 32 million households in its 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. UNICEF will distribute a total of 6.5 million nets itself.

This massive distribution of bed nets should reach 80% of the pregnant women and children under five years old in Nigeria. It is the largest distribution of bed nets in history, anywhere in the world.

In the summer of 2010, the people of Japan joined this record-breaking effort by providing 150,000 bed nets to Lere community in Kaduna State so that all the young children and pregnant women in its 124,000 households could sleep safe from mosquitoes. It is one of myriad projects covered by several millions of dollars of development support Nigeria receives from the Government and people of Japan.

Over a ten-day period starting in late June, UNICEF and its partners distributed the LLINs in Lere. The first five days were used to hand out “net cards” to households with children and pregnant women; householders exchanged them for LLINs in the five days after that. The team from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), led by Ms Miho Wada, attended the ceremony launching the net card phase, and was on hand for the LLIN distribution five days later.

Altogether 123,875 nets were handed out—and Lere already shows signs that the strategy to reduce malaria infections by 80% in Nigeria may succeed: a survey conducted after the distribution showed that the community’s bed net hanging rate was 85% and is 92% of pregnant women and children under five years old had slept under their LLIN the previous night.

A mix of modern and traditional channels of communication may well have been responsible for the very successful distribution and the high rate of bed net use: town criers, traditional rulers and religious leaders, as well as the media, all contributed to the high level of awareness of LLINs as simple, effective way of preventing malaria—and saving lives.

 

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