Liberia: Belinda Stronach and Edward W.Scott of “Malaria No More” in Liberia for a major thrust against the disease
Monrovia, May 16, 2008 – Belinda Stronach, co-founder of Spread the Net (Mosquito Net Initiative), founder and chairman of the board for the Center for Global Development, traveled this week to post-war Liberia to get first-hand information on the burden of malaria and practices in the use of bed nets in communities.
Women and men from Tuzohn district sang with joy as they led their visitors into the community and households. Belinda Stronach and Edward Scott, both directors of the “Malaria No More” a non-profit organization based in the United States, marched hut-to-hut distributing bed nets and talking to communities on the importance of their use “as the best cost-effective method of prevention against malaria”.
The legacy of the 14 years of civil war has left populations in dire need of the most basic services such as water, sanitation and food, purchasing a bed-net is thus a mere luxury. Yet the burden of malaria is preventing affected communities in participating in their country’s reconstruction and economic recovery. Worldwide, every year, malaria kills nearly two million people and infects 400 to 500 million, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 90% of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is endemic in Liberia and accounts for up to 38% of out-patient consultations and 18% of mortality in children less than 5 years of age.
The effective use of Insecticide treated bed nets has been proven to reduce deaths in under-five children by up to 20%. About 8 USD is what it costs to deliver a long lasting insecticide treated bed-net and save a child of dying from malaria. Over the past 2 years, UNICEF has distributed close to 300,000 bed nets to children and pregnant women and plans to distribute 225,000 bed nets in 2008. Spread the Net and UNICEF Canada purchased 42,000 Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Bed nets in 2007. UNICEF chief of Child Survival, Dr. John Egbe Agbor was adamant: “Every pregnant women and children must sleep under an InsecticideTreated bed net if we want to witness a major fall in the number of deaths and illnesses from the disease.”
To raise awareness of on Malaria UNICEF Liberia organized photography workshop for children. The best pictures taken by the participating children will be part of an exhibit in Canada to raise money for Insecticide Treated bed nets for Liberia as part of the Spread the Net campaign. Children’s photographs as part of the Eye SEE III project portray the plight of malaria as they picture it in their communities. The money raised should contribute in reaching the Government of Liberia target to distribute 3 bed nets per household. UNICEF Liberia estimates that a total of 1.5 million nets must be purchased this year to reach the nationwide target in Liberia, an absolute step towards the reduction of deaths and illnesses in children.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information, visit www.unicef.org.
For further information, please contact: Yvette Bivigou, UNICEF, +231 689 6362, firstname.lastname@example.org