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Rolling back malaria in Guinea-Bissau

Rolling back malaria in Guinea-Bissau

A mother and child sit under a bed net - a powerful tool in preventing the spread of malaria

24 April 2008 – For the first time, children in the Bafata region of Guinea-Bissau are protected by over 90% bed net coverage - helping to drastically reduce the rate of malaria infection.

Approximately 45% of registered deaths in Guinea Bissau are caused by malaria, and young children are among those most vulnerable.

As part of a drive to reduce this statistic, Plan entered a joint partnership with the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, resulting in a campaign of malaria treatment and prevention and the distribution of impregnated mosquito nets throughout the country.

Bed net campaign

Abissa, mother to 3-year-old Lamine, benefited from a mosquito net during the distribution campaign.

She said: “Since my son received the mosquito net from Plan in November 2007 he has always slept under it. So, thanks God, in that time Lamine hasn't been sick with malaria.”

The free distribution of the mosquito nets has been followed by the distribution of Vitamin A and Mebendazole and the vaccination of children under 5 years old, which has been very important in reducing the occurrence of sickness.

Additionally, there followed intensive sensitisation activity in the local communities about methods for the prevention of malaria.

Children take action

The newly established Children's Participation Group in the community of Ga-Tauda played a vital role in the sensitisation of families relating to the need for the systematic use of impregnated mosquito nets.

A member of the Child Participation Group said: “After the campaign our group not only continued the activity of door-to-door sensitisation, but also monitored the mothers that received the mosquito nets to ensure they were using them to protect their children.

“Therefore, we are sure that the decrease of the cases of malaria in our community is, in fact, due to the use of long-duration- impregnated mosquito nets.”

Reaching remote communities

Thanks to this joint partnership, the coverage has reached not only over 90% of the communities in Bafata, but it has also reached some remote communities for the first time.

In the community of Ga-Tauda, a health worker said: “After the implementation of the malaria campaign, the number of cases of malaria has reduced drastically with the rate falling from 30% to 15%.”