Over the past five years, our Malaria Control Unit in Malawi has distributed an incredible 1,411,928 insecticide-treated malaria nets in the districts of Balaka, Dedza, Dowa and Ntcheu. Meet some of the families who have benefited from the nets – physically, socially and economically.
Back in 2015, the Malawian National Health Information Service estimated that in Malawi there are 4 million cases of malaria every year. Mortality rates are high, with 18% of all hospital deaths in Malawi due to malaria. When diagnosed early, the disease is easily treatable but swift diagnosis is a challenge in a country with 1.9 physicians for every 100,000 members of the population – making the need for preventative measures like mosquito nets critical.
Enter United Purpose’s Malaria Control Unit. Funded by the Against Malaria Foundation, the Unit collects demographic data from each district’s health office and then distributes the required number of mosquito nets to each village. The staff also operate at a grassroots level to educate and inform communities on how best to care for their nets and combat malaria.
Did you know?
Long-lasting insecticide-treated nets have been proven to be the most efficient form of prevention. If a pregnant, malaria-carrying mosquito cannot get a blood meal for 10-12 days, she cannot reproduce. Breaking the cycle of transmission can result in a significant decrease in the mosquitoes carrying the disease.
73-year-old Cecilia Size is one of the people who has benefited from the Malaria Control Unit’s mass distribution of nets.
“Before being given the nets by UP, we had no protection against malaria,” Cecilia says. “The health centre is very far from our house and we have no means of transport, so it was very difficult for us when we got malaria and had to go there.”
Cecilia’s two-year-old grandson was diagnosed with malaria soon after he was born. However, because he now sleeps under a net every night, he has not suffered from malaria since.
The benefits Cecilia’s family have experienced as a result of the nets do not end with improved health. With the rest of her family members now no longer inhibited by days spent ill or caring for sick relatives, Cecilia’s family are thriving economically.
“Now that we suffer malaria less frequently, not only do we save considerable amounts of time by not having to walk for hours to the health centre, but my family can do more work,” says Cecilia. “Because we are healthier, work is completed properly and on time – this means we never miss a harvest.”
39-year-old Julius James and his family have been receiving long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets from the Malaria Control Unit since 2014. Before they had the nets, the family suffered from frequent outbreaks of the disease, which took its toll physically and economically.
“It was costly for us because it took a long time to get to the health centre and we often had to buy medication for the children when the health centre ran out,” Julius explains. “Since having the nets, we have saved money, which we can now instead spend on clothes and food.”
Now that the family is experiencing better health, they are able to invest more time into expanding their enterprises, such as growing tomatoes and other vegetables in their garden.
“Not only has this increased own food supplies, but it has allowed us to produce enough to sell at the market for a profit,” Julius says.