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Mosquito nets keep Mozambique's killer at bay

© UNICEF Mozambique/2004/Dan Thomas
Insecticide-treated mosquito nets can protect pregnant women and young children against the mosquitoes that transmit malaria.
XAI XAI, Mozambique, 5 August 2004 – While HIV/AIDS threatens the lives of tens of millions of Africans, malaria is the top killer of children under the age of five in Mozambique. It has taken the lives of as many as 50,000 Mozambican children each year, as well as endangering pregnant women, who are particularly vulnerable among adults.

To protect pregnant women and young children against the mosquitoes that transmit malaria, UNICEF is helping supply them with insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

The nets are distributed at local health clinics, where 30 to 40 per cent of the people being treated are there because of malaria. If purchased at the local market, the nets would cost about $5 or $6 dollars. But the clinics offer UNICEF-subsidized nets for just $1.25.

© UNICEF Mozambique/2004/Dan Thomas
A woman impregnates a mosquito net with insecticide for malaria prevention.
"If a person is prepared to pay for something, it means they begin to understand the value," says Tim Freeman, a UNICEF malaria project officer in Mozambique. "When the nets are given for free, they often just go missing. People don't understand the value of what they've been given."

To discourage families from turning around and selling their nets, UNICEF marks the nets with an individual number that can be easily tracked should they turn up in a commercial market.

So far, UNICEF has distributed 650,000 nets over the past four years. But more are needed: About a million nets are required annually solely for protecting pregnant women. Eventually, UNICEF hopes to supply every child and pregnant woman in the country with a net.




5 August 2004: Thomas Nybo reports on UNICEF’s efforts to prevent malaria in Mozambique.

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