02 December 2002
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - The vouchers will be provided to pregnant women and make it possible for them to purchase insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) at approximately a third of their cost. Expectant mothers will also be able to use the vouchers to acquire free insecticide re-treatment kits necessary to ensure the continued protection of their infants.
"Importantly, the scheme will support and encourage private sector involvement in ITN production and distribution especially to poor rural communities." Said Mrs. Mwaffisi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health of Tanzania, at the signing ceremony of the agreement held on 30 November. "A true partnership, in the spirit of public private co-operation which will ultimately save lives and improve the living standards of all Tanzanians".
Studies conducted in Tanzania have shown that the use of treated mosquito nets can reduce infant mortality by up to 27% and cut the number of illnesses from malaria in half. At present, about 80,000 children under five die from malaria each year in Tanzania.
"In Tanzania, 90% of pregnant women attend antenatal clinics at least once before giving birth," said Dr. Chrispus Kiyonga, chair of the Global Fund board, in Dar Es Salem to sign the agreement "And when they do, they will now receive the affordable means to protect their households from malaria."
In Africa, Tanzania has been a leading force in efforts to control malaria. The country was the first in Africa to remove taxes on treated mosquito nets, making these nets among the cheapest in the continent. To date only 17 of the 44 African countries most affected by malaria have removed taxes on the nets. Tanzania and Mali also are the only two African countries to have removed VAT on the importation of treated mosquito nets.
Two years ago at a presidential malaria summit held in Abuja, Nigeria, the Tanzania government committed to protect 60% of children under-five years of age and pregnant women with insecticide treated mosquito nets by 2005. In its project proprosal to the Global Fund, Tanzania also committed to ensuring the establishment of at least one commercial retail outlet selling affordable ITN commodities in all villages where malaria remains a threat.
There are over 300 million cases of malaria worldwide each year, with more than 1 million resulting in death. Over 90% of these cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of those who die are children aged under-five years. They die because they are unprotected from mosquito bites and are not treated quickly enough with anti-malarial drugs to prevent the disease from killing them.
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria welcomes the signing of this agreement, which represents a milestone in the fight against malaria, through the development of innovative public-private partnerships.