Thirty seconds for a safe night
DAKAR, Senegal, 25 April 2012 – UNICEF in West and Central Africa is marking the World Malaria Day with the launch of a synchronised TV and radio campaign across the region – together with Malaria No More/Speak Up Africa and Roll Back Malaria - in order to encourage more people to sleep under a treated mosquito bed nets.
Timed to be broadcast just as people are going to bed, the short 30-second public service announcements (PSA) are being transmitted in 6 countries. As a result of a broad alliance that has brought together State-run institutions, NGOs, UN agencies and private companies across the region, this initiative aims at encouraging more people, and children in particular, to sleep under insecticide treated nets (ITNs) and so reduce the chances of being bitten by infected mosquitoes.
Over ninety per cent of the malaria-related deaths occur in Africa – and most of these are children. Malaria continues to be the third largest killer of children under five globally and in Africa is responsible for about one in six of all childhood deaths. Studies have suggested that when there are enough nets in the community and children are sleeping under a net every night, it can reduce overall child mortality by up to 20 per cent.
Sadly, recent figures shows that only 30 per cent of all under 5 children from West and Central Africa sleep under am ITN at night for a variety of reasons. Yet, some African countries have made significant progress through continuous campaign efforts, such as in Niger where more than 70 per cent of all pregnant women sleep under insecticide treated nets (ITNs). Five countries from West Africa –namely Benin, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone and The Gambia—have recently achieved universal coverage, which means one insecticide treated net for two persons.
"Distributing insecticide treated nets is good. But ensuring that people sleep under them at night is even better’’, said Dr. Claude-Emile Rwagacondo, Roll Back Malaria Partnership Coordinator for West Africa. “These TV short messages just before bedtime are important to promote lifesaving behaviours. If people stop sleeping under ITN now, malaria will surge again and lives will be lost unnecessarily and this is especially so amongst children under five and pregnant women."
Today in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a large-scale mass distribution of 13.7 million insecticide-treated long-lasting nets (LLINs) is kick-started by the government together with UNICEF, Roll Back Malaria, the World Bank and other partners. Each year, malaria kills 180,000 children under the age of five in DRC, which makes it the leading cause of child death in the country. More than 24,660,000 million people, including 4.5 million children under 5 years and 1,250,000 million pregnant women, will benefit from the distribution with a special focus on the most remote areas in the provinces of North and South Kivu, Bandundu and Equateur.
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