Over three billion people live with the threat of malaria - a disease that claims the lives of an estimated one million people annually – mostly children under five. Having malaria can keep children away from school and parents away from work for months. Longlasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) have proven a simple and effective barrier against the mosquitoes carrying the deadly disease.
In December 2009, a large campaign in terms of scale, logistics and collaboration commenced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The campaign delivered 5.5 million LLINs to 1.8 million households in 83 health zones in the provinces of Orientale and Maniema. This represented more than 600,000 square kilometres of terrain to cover and required a complex logistics operation. The sheer bulk of the bednets, and the transport and logistics infrastructure in parts of DRC, required a smart in-country distribution strategy designed with the Government and partners.
In August 2009, 3,200 tonnes (70,000 bales) of LLINs began arriving in DRC from suppliers in Viet Nam, Thailand, China and Tanzania, both by sea (from the Asian countries) and by truck (from Tanzania). The next step Reaching 1.8 million households . in the Democratic Republic of Congo was ensuring that the LLINs were prepositioned in the different health posts in time for the campaign. This mammoth task required 20 barges, 400 trucks, 15 aircraft, 36 train wagons, 250 bicycles that carried 100 nets at a time, and 200 warehouses. In parallel, coordinated social mobilisation efforts with the Government, development partners, health workers and volunteers built awareness of the campaign and how the nets protect against malaria.
The combined efforts of UNITAID, which provided funding for net procurement, UNICEF,. Government, development partners and the countless health workers and volunteers, overcame what at times seemed like insurmountable obstacles - to improve the lives of millions.