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UNICEF supplies 150,000 mosquito nets in Bangui as rainy season approaches

Malaria already causing 40 per cent of illnesses among displaced children

BANGUI, Central African Republic / DAKAR, Senegal, 14 March 2014 – Ahead of the rainy season due to start next month in the Central African Republic (CAR), UNICEF is providing 150,000 mosquito bed nets for 75,000 people displaced in the capital, who have lost their homes because of the conflict.

The rainy season brings the threat of malaria, which can be deadly, especially to vulnerable populations.

 “Heavy rains have already started and displacement sites are the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes," said UNICEF CAR Representative Souleymane Diabaté. "Without any protection against mosquitoes, displaced children are at even higher risk of attacks of malaria.”

UNICEF partnered with the National Red Cross to carry out the distribution of nets, while the Ministry of Health oversaw campaign activities. By the end of the campaign, a total of 75,000 families will have received two mosquito bed nets along with educational material on malaria, the importance of using nets, and how to hang and maintain them. More than 120,000 mosquito bed nets have already been distributed in major displacement sites in the capital since mid-February.

“These nets will save lives,” Diabaté said. “Malaria is one of the biggest causes of child deaths here. Now, violence prevents families from going to the health facility for treatment, heath staff have fled, and facilities have been looted. What are the chances children can receive adequate treatment on time?”

Figures from a group of NGOs and UN organisations working in health in CAR say since the beginning of December, malaria has been the cause of 40 per cent of illness for children under-five in the 40 major displacement camps in Bangui.

“My son had a difficult start to life,” said Ngombe, a displaced mother whose baby had malaria. “We had to stay in the hospital for a whole week in order for him to get better. But now he’s fine and the new net will hopefully protect him from now on.” Ngombe fled her home when violence erupted in Bangui last December.

Before the crisis, only 36 per cent of children in CAR slept under a mosquito net. The situation has worsened as displacement forced many people to leave their belongings behind.

Children in displacement sites are particularly at risk of falling ill as they are living in make-shift dwellings that offer few, if any, barriers against mosquitoes. Sleeping under a mosquito net reduces malaria deaths by 20 per cent.  


Note to editors
The Government of Japan and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund funded the malaria net distribution campaign.

Between 5 December 2013 and 9 February 2014, a total of 44,500 children under-5 underwent medical checks in 40 displacement sites in Bangui and 40 per cent of them had malaria. These malaria caseload figures were gathered by the Health Cluster, made up of humanitarian organizations working to improve health services in the country. The World Health Organization leads the Cluster, which has 59 members, including NGOs and UN organizations.

With now more than 150 staff on the ground, UNICEF has considerably and rapidly scaled up its humanitarian presence and operations in CAR in response to the growing magnitude and severity of this crisis. UNICEF has added staff in established field offices in Bossangoa, Bambari and Kaga Bandoro and is coordinating outreach strategies in the west and centre of the country.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org 

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For more information, please contact: 

Linda Tom, UNICEF Bangui, Mobile: +236 70550210; ltom@unicef.org

Kent Page, UNICEF Bangui, Mobile: +1 917 302 1735; kpage@unicef.org

Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF Dakar, Mobile: +221 77 740 35 77; lduvillier@unicef.org





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