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Slow but steady results in Angola’s fight against malaria

© UNICEF Angola/2010/Blumenkratz
An infant sleeps under a mosquito net in Angola.

By Yolanda Nunes Correia

LUANDA, Angola, 25 April 2012 – Today, 25 April, is World Malaria Day, an event that calls attention to the critical need bring malaria under control.

Despite progress made in Angola’s fight against malaria, the disease remains the country’s principal killer of young children, accounting for 35 per cent of deaths among children under age 5.

This is more than a statistic for Catarina Cassinda, from Namibe Province. One year ago, in April, she lost her 18-month-old child to malaria.

“My personal story made me an activist in the fight against malaria in the school where I teach,” Ms. Cassinda said.

Taking action against malaria

Ms. Cassinda is a teacher at Tombwa Primary School, where she has seen the positive effects of efforts to combat the disease.

“There are now fewer and fewer cases of school absenteeism due to malaria. The means of malaria transmission by mosquito bites and the protection measures, including the use of treated mosquito nets, are taught to students,” she said. “The topic is also included in our training manuals.”

She and her family now always sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets. And Ms. Cassinda wants to prevent other mothers and families from going through what she has been through.

Reaching as many as possible

Many bilateral and multilateral partners have been supporting the Government of Angola in reinforcing the national malaria control programme. Access to long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) and malaria treatment has been increasing at a steady pace since 2006.

UNICEF provides technical and logistical support for the procurement and distribution of LLINs. UNICEF is also assisting communication campaigns to raise awareness about the need for and proper use of mosquito nets.

“UNICEF is working with partners to ensure the three essentials: knowledge to be protected and early detection of malaria; free access to malaria treatment and prevention during pregnancy; and ensuring access to free drugs and nets,” said UNICEF Representative in Angola Koenraad Vanormelingen.

Communication campaigns, education activities and social mobilization activities have also played an important role in creating demand for mosquito nets.

Millions of mosquito nets have been distributed in Angola in the last few years, increasing the coverage of under-5 children and pregnant women to 26 per cent, according to the 2011 Malaria Indicator Survey. And efforts are underway to help even more people keep their families safe.

Balbina Calamua Inácio, a mother of three boys, is happy to say that her family has taken measures to protect themselves. “I protect my boys since an early age by sleeping under treated mosquito nets,” she said.



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