NetsforLife distributes millionth net to eliminate malaria in sub-Saharan Africa

March 1, 2009

Three years after delivering the first long-lasting insecticide-treated net to a remote community in rural Zambia, NetsforLife® has concluded Phase 1 of its implementation by distributing its millionth net.

A collaborative partnership of ExxonMobil Foundation, Standard Chartered Bank, Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, Starr International Foundation, White Flowers Foundation and Episcopal Relief & Development, NetsforLife® implements integrated malaria prevention through a network of local faith-based organizations and NGOs in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The program is managed and monitored by ERD in 15 countries and by Christian Aid in two.

"Sleeping under an insecticide-treated net dramatically reduces malaria transmission, but because so few people have access to nets the disease remains a scourge of sub-Saharan Africa, the epicenter of 86% of the world's 247 million annual cases. Nearly a million people die each year from malaria, 91% in Africa," an ERD release said. "More than 75% of those who become sick and die are children under the age of five. This disease causes needless death and suffering, and cripples development on the continent."

Kenya's Minister for Land James Orengo, President of the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation William Asiko, NetsforLife® Executive Director Shaun Walsh, and 4,000 others participated in dramatic and musical events celebrating the completion of NetsforLife® Phase 1 in Kisumu, Kenya on December 10, 2008.

NetsforLife®, the ERD release said, "has already achieved remarkable success." The program encourages people to sleep under long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, trains local malaria agents who distribute nets, provides education on how to recognize symptoms of malaria and teaches communities about environmental management and malaria control. "For example, household long-lasting insecticide-treated nets used by children and pregnant women, the two groups most vulnerable to the disease, increased dramatically in all countries of operation," the release said, noting that the percentage of pregnant women and children sleeping under nets has risen from 12% to 88%.

In order to continue its work to eliminate malaria, NetsforLife® has launched Phase 2 of the program. During the next five years, the organization will expand its work to 17 countries, train thousands more malaria agents and distribute at least five million more nets.

As part of the Phase 2 kick-off, NetsforLife® is launching its new website, www.netsforlifeafrica.org, which has several features to engage those interested in efforts to eliminate malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. These include expanded information on program practices and activities, a blog with postings from different NetsforLife® field sites and headquarters and video clips presenting NetsforLife® in action.

"We are thrilled with the impact that Phase 1 of NetsforLife® has had on reducing malaria in remote communities in sub-Saharan Africa," said NetsforLife® Executive Director Walsh. "We know from our project monitoring data that using the church to reach communities at the end of the road is a successful way to instill a net culture and get people to sleep under treated nets. This is a true reason to rejoice and celebrate."

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