The Power of Love team along with the beneficiary families, would like to say a big “Thank You” to you for supporting our “Project Mosquito Nets” program in Zambia. As a result of your generosity and caring, we are seeing a reduction in the incidence of malaria in our community and with improved health more children are being able to attend school regularly.
Power of Love’s malaria prevention program or Project Mosquito Nets, provides long lasting insecticide treated nets and education on prevention of malaria to children and families vulnerable to malaria in the community of Matero in Lusaka, Zambia. Matero is one of the largest and poorest compounds in Lusaka with an estimated population between 350,000 to 375,000. This community is characterized with a high incidence of HIV, AIDS and malaria and an unemployment rate upwards of 65%. Most residents are poor and earn less than $2 per day – defined as extreme poverty by the UN. In addition, many areas in Matero are breeding grounds for mosquitoes due to water logging and poor sanitation. Hence there is a huge need to provide education on malaria prevention and mosquito bed nets to residents. According to the WHO, sleeping under a mosquito bed net is one of the most cost effective and easiest ways to prevent malaria.
Over the last ten years we have been able to provide over 22,000 nets and education on malaria prevention to families in Kenya and Zambia. At our most recent malaria prevention day in July 2016, we were able to provide 2000 long lasting insecticide treated nets to children and families vulnerable to malaria in Zambia.
Our vision is to eliminate malaria from Zambia. The goal of our malaria prevention program is eliminate malaria from Matero, and reduce deaths due to malaria to zero. This will keep children and families healthy and malaria free.
Plan for 2017: For 2017, our plan is to provide 5000 insecticide treated nets and education on malaria prevention to families vulnerable to malaria in Zambia.
About Malaria and Its Impact
Malaria is both preventable and treatable. However, globally malaria is still a problem as there were an estimated 214 million cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths in 2015. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. This region was home to 89% of malaria cases and 91% of malaria deaths in 2015. In addition, children under five are particularly susceptible to malaria illness, infection and death. In 2015, malaria killed an estimated 306,000 under-fives globally, including 292,000 children in the African region. Moreover, pregnant women, young children (who have yet to develop an immunity to malaria), older people, people infected with TB, and people living with HIV are especially vulnerable to malaria as co-infections rates between malaria, HIV, and TB are very high.
Economic Impact of Malaria: Malaria is the single biggest drag on Africa’s economy with estimated direct losses of $12 billion a year (a GDP growth of about 1.3% per year) due to increased healthcare costs, lost ability to work and effects on tourism. The cost in lost economic growth is many times more than that. If malaria can be eliminated, thousands of lives can be saved and GDP growth will be higher. An increase in economic growth will enable the African economies to spend their own resources to prevent malaria and keep their populations malaria free and healthy.
Is it possible to reduce malaria deaths to zero? The answer is “yes, we can eradicate loss of life due to malaria as it is both preventable and curable. Malaria has been eradicated in the US and it is possible to eradicate it worldwide. In fact, over the last 15 years, increased prevention and control measures have led to a 60% reduction in malaria mortality rates globally. According to the World Health Organization, this has been due to the increased use of malaria prevention measures that include insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying, and malaria treatment drugs. An estimated 663 million cases of malaria have been averted in sub-Saharan Africa since 2001; however, 69% of the 663 million fewer malaria cases attributable to interventions were due to the use of mosquito nets, and 31% due to drugs and indoor spraying. This implies that sleeping under a mosquito bed net is one of the most cost effective and easiest ways to prevent malaria.
Power of Love’s Response to Malaria
Over the last ten years we have been able to provide over 22,000 nets and education on malaria prevention to families in Kenya and Zambia. At our most recent malaria prevention day in July 2016, we were able to provide 2000 long lasting insecticide treated nets to women and children vulnerable to malaria in Zambia.
Malaria Prevention Day 2016
Power of Love’s annual malaria prevention day was held on July 9, 2016 (though the malaria prevention program is ongoing). The activities commenced with a prayer led by beneficiaries, members of our partner organization in Zambia, and a few Board members from the Power of Love Foundation. The attendees included local leaders, health care professionals, and representatives from Churches, community organizations, health clinics, and community members. The event was held at the Matero Catholic Church in Matero and was attended by about 750 people.
Education on Prevention of Malaria: Power of Love’s Project Nurse commenced the health/malaria education part of the day’s activities by giving a short talk on hygiene and health. This was followed by education on malaria prevention and the proper use of nets by health care professional from local clinics. Highlights of the malaria prevention education, led by a Nurse from one of the Government clinics in Matero included:
(i) hygiene, drainage maintenance, filling and removal of mosquito breeding sites,
(ii) proper use and maintenance of nets (cleaning and storage) to prevent damage,
(iii) negative impact of malaria in pregnancy e.g. maternal death, abortion, still birth and low birth weight,
(iv) information about malaria for HIV+ children,
(v) identification of signs and symptoms of malaria, and
(vi) information regarding re-treatment of nets every six months.
The Nurse explained that the best way to prevent malaria was to sleep under a net every night during malaria season. In addition, she underscored the importance of re-treating nets every six months, which could be done during the Child Health Weeks held in June and December each year. She informed the gathering that government clinics provide re-treatment kits free of cost. The Nurse also emphasized the need for keeping nets clean and stored properly. Finally, the Nurse emphasized the danger of contracting malaria while pregnant, especially if the expecting mom is HIV+.
Provision of Nets: After the education on malaria prevention and demonstration on the proper use and maintenance of nets, long lasting insecticide treated nets were provided to 2000 families in the Matero compound in Lusaka, Zambia. This compound is one of the largest and poorest compounds in Lusaka with a population of 350,000-375,000. Many parts of Matero are water logged and have sewer ponds, leading to a high prevalence of malaria. A high incidence of HIV and TB in the community, increases the vulnerability of the population to malaria due to high co-infection rates between these diseases. In addition, HIV+ pregnant women are especially vulnerable as malaria as it can lead to maternal death, abortion, still birth and low birth weight.
Based on feedback from beneficiary families in 2014 and 2015, the color of nets was changed to an army green as families indicated that nets that were white got dirty and were difficult to maintain.
Profile of Beneficiaries: Beneficiaries were children and families in Power of Love’s paediatric HIV care, micro loans, and Safe Park programs and members of the community who are vulnerable to malaria. Identification of beneficiaries was done in the months of May and June with the help of several community organizations such as Churches, government health clinics, and other community based organizations.
Most of the beneficiaries were HIV positive children, children under the age of five, pregnant moms, women who are breast feeding and adults who are infected with TB and/or HIV. These sections of the population are most vulnerable to malaria as their immune system is compromised, and because co-infection rates between malaria, HIV and TB are very high.
Impact of Malaria Prevention Activities
Provision of bed nets and education on malaria prevention and proper use and maintenance of nets has gone a long way in reducing the incidence of malaria in our community. As a result of our malaria prevention program beneficiary families:
(i) have increased knowledge about proper use and storage of nets,
(ii) are able to re-treat the nets every six months,
(iii) need fewer visits to hospitals/clinics,
(iv) have fewer cases of malaria,
(v) see an increase in school attendance due to improved health of the children, and
(vi) have a higher quality of life and general well-being.
Follow-Up Study: A post-distribution study will be conducted in September 2016, to assess the impact of nets on the incidence of malaria and on the health of the beneficiary families. This study will assess: if the nets are being used every night, used and stored properly, re-treated every six months, and health of the beneficiary families. Results of past follow-up studies have underscored the need for our malaria prevention program.
Need for Nets: Follow-up interviews with nets recipients indicates that the nets distributed over the last 2-3 years are in good condition and are being used as directed. However, we need several thousand more nets as most residents in our community live on less than $2 per day and cannot afford to purchase a net.
According to the World Health Organization, 90 percent of families with a bed net use it. However, in 2015 only 55% of families in sub-Saharan African slept beneath a mosquito bed net. This highlights a need for an additional 45% of families in Sub-Saharan Africa to sleep under a net. Moreover, we should not allow the coverage of insecticide treated nets to decline as a decrease in coverage can lead to a major insurgence of the disease and can reverse the gains achieved over the last several years.
Next Distribution of Nets: For 2017, our goal is to provide 5000 long lasting insecticide treated nets and education on malaria prevention to families vulnerable to malaria. To achieve this goal, we will continue to raise funds for the next 9-12 months.
To sum, we are confident that as more families use insecticide treated in the coming years, there will be fewer cases of malaria. Also, we are confident that deaths due to malaria will be reduced to zero.
Thanks for your caring and dedication to prevent malaria in Zambia. We could not have achieved our goals without your help.