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Mozambique campaign aims to distribute 500,000 more nets to fight malaria

© UNICEF Mozambique/2007/Pirozzi
To fight malaria, the Government of Mozambique and UNICEF are teaming up to distribute insecticide-treated nets to all pregnant women and children under five.

By Emidio Machiana

MAPUTO, Mozambique, 9 November 2007 – A wide-ranging campaign to distribute over 500,000 mosquito nets is currently under way in 5 of Mozambique’s 10 provinces.

The campaign, which will continue through December, coincides with SADC Malaria Day (organized by the Southern African Development Community). Observed each year on the second Friday of November, SADC Malaria Day brings together countries in the region to celebrate efforts in the struggle against this deadly but preventable disease.

The distribution of the mosquito nets complements an insecticide-spraying drive led by the Ministry of Health, which is meant to cover about 42 per cent of the population. The current distribution of nets is targeting remote communities in rural areas not covered by the spraying, and is giving priority to reaching children under the age of five.

The net campaign is supported by the US President’s Malaria Initiative, the UK Department for International Development and UNICEF, with technical aid from the Malaria Consortium and Population Services International, a US-based non-governmental organization.

Broad distribution strengthens prevention

UNICEF has supported the distribution of mosquito nets in Mozambique since 2000 as part of a strategy that empowers communities by giving them the means to deal with malaria prevention themselves. Since then, 1.5 million nets have been distributed by UNICEF out of a total of 2.5 million nets distributed nationwide.

© UNICEF Mozambique/2007/Pirozzi
A mother in Mozambique receives instructions on how to most effectively use the mosquito net to protect her and her child.

The mosquito nets are given free of charge to children under five as well as those who are orphaned or otherwise vulnerable, along with other health interventions such as vitamin A supplementation, as part of an integrated package.

In most of the country’s provinces, the nets are also being distributed to pregnant women during antenatal consultations, and to people living with HIV and AIDS, through community-based organizations.

It is expected that all pregnant women and children under five in parts of Mozambique that have not been sprayed with insecticides will receive the treated mosquito nets by the end of 2008.

UNICEF and media work together

Malaria is the largest cause of death for children in Mozambique, taking an estimated 36,000 lives every year. Malaria is also responsible for 40 per cent of outpatient consultations and 60 per cent of hospitalizations of children under five.

UNICEF supports social mobilization activities to prevent malaria at the community level – an important component of the national malaria control programme implemented by the Health Ministry, and one in which the media have a fundamental role to play.

In this context (and as part of the run-up to SADC Malaria Day), UNICEF organized a meeting with Mozambican journalists who are members of the recently created African Media and Malaria Research Network. The session centred on how the media can better support interventions against malaria and educate communities on the best hygiene, prevention practices and treatment options available.



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