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Insecticide-treated nets save lives in Malawi’s fight against malaria

© UNICEF video
Malaria is endemic in Malawi where it is a major killer of children.

By Thomas Nybo

MWANZA, Malawi, 16 August 2005 – Malaria is a major killer of children in Malawi. But Magreta Makwemba sleeps soundly at night, knowing her family is safe – thanks to the use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs).

"Before we had bed nets, we used to have a lot of problems with malaria in the family,” she says. “But since we got the nets, we are comfortable. Nobody is getting malaria now." Magreta has bitter memories of malaria: Her sister and one of her children died of the disease.

Magreta has now been using ITNs for three years. During that time none of her five children have contracted malaria. The market price for the nets is about $5 each – too expensive for most people here. But a UNICEF price subsidy reduces the cost of ITNs for mothers in Malawi to 50 cents each.

© UNICEF video
A baby receiving treatment for malaria in Mwanza Hospital in Malawi. In sub-Saharan Africa, malaria is responsible for around one fifth of all deaths of children under five.

Magreta lives on less than one dollar a day, money she makes doing odd jobs, like gardening or cleaning. The truth is that, without the help of UNICEF and its partners, her children would not have the protection provided by ITNs.

Malaria in Africa

"Malaria is quite a serious problem in Africa, particularly in Malawi,” says Kitema Bizuneh, a UNICEF Project Officer who specializes in malaria control. “About 40 to 60 per cent of health-facility visits are due to malaria."

Malaria kills one child in sub-Saharan Africa about every 30 seconds. Globally, more than 1 million people die due to malaria every year, the vast majority of them children under the age of five.

UNICEF has been working to make sure that at least 60 per cent of those at risk from malaria, particularly pregnant women and children under five years of age, benefit from the most suitable combination of personal and community protective measures, such as insecticide-treated nets. By promoting and supporting the widespread use of insecticide-treated nets, UNICEF is helping protect millions of children in Africa from one of the most serious threats to their survival.




30 May 2005:
UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports on how insecticide-treated nets, with prices subsidized by UNICEF, are saving lives in Malawi’s fight against malaria.

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