10 December 2014
Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire – A nationwide campaign to distribute 13 million mosquito nets to protect people against malaria was launched here today, aiming to provide one net for every two people in Côte d’Ivoire.
With the Ebola epidemic affecting neighbouring countries, health officials in Côte d’Ivoire are making extra efforts to prioritize malaria prevention and treatment. The net distribution is being carried out with support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Malaria is endemic in Cote d’Ivoire and in many countries in Africa. Each year, more than 460,000 children under the age of five die of malaria, worldwide.
“There is indeed urgency to do this mass distribution since the Ebola threat is at our borders and at the beginning Ebola symptoms are similar to malaria,” said Dr. Raymonde Goudou-Coffie, Ivorian Minister of Health and the Fight against AIDS. “We will renew completely all mosquito nets to better protect our people. This campaign, along with free treatment for children under five and pregnant women, is part of the actions undertaken by the government to fight against malaria in Côte d’Ivoire.”
Mark Edington, Head of Grant Management at the Global Fund, said: “This campaign aims for universal coverage, and we are pleased to be able to support this objective of the government. In Côte d’Ivoire, only one out of three children sleeps under a mosquito net, and that needs to improve.”
Adele Khudr, UNICEF Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, added: “Despite the threat of Ebola in Côte d’Ivoire, it is important to maintain large-scale public health activities to protect children who are particularly vulnerable to malaria. Mosquito net distributions are one of the most effective ways to reduce child mortality. But it is also important to inform people how to use nets properly in order to save lives.”
In addition to affecting particularly children, malaria also poses an acute risk for pregnant women. Malaria can cause anaemia in pregnant women, and can cause premature or still birth, or undernourished babies whose lives are at risk.
Long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets are simple to use and can be effective for three years, an effective way to prevent mosquito bites that can carry the malaria parasite.
The mass distribution campaign will cover all of Côte d’Ivoire, and is being organized by the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and CARE. The procurement of 13 million mosquito nets was made possible by a US$55 million grant from the Global Fund.