The Butterfly Tree has been given a licence to import two safe new malaria prevention products which could potentially save the lives of thousands of children in Zambia. The products Mozzimort and Larvamort, produced by Biotech International can not only help to prevent malaria but also river blindness (Onchocerciasis), also known as Robles disease, which is caused by a black fly. One in ten people suffer from this condition in the Northern and Western Provinces of Zambia and up until now there have been no preventative methods available.
This project dominated my three weeks in Zambia. With the assistance of Stain Musungaila, a local volunteer for The Butterfly Tree and his invaluable contacts, we presented the data to the Ministry of Health’s Enviormental Agency, the Food and Drugs Department and the Malaria Control Board. The products have been approved and we are being granted licencing for the importation, storage, transport and distribution, which will last for three years.
Sadly there has been a huge increase in the number of new cases of malaria in the region. Mukuni Chiefdom alone has reported over 200 new cases, in the past three years the number has been less than five. This has been caused by a number of factors – lack of insecticidal spraying, insufficient mosquito nets and prolonged heavy rains. Other clincis in the Kazungula District have reported a simular picture, which has created a great deal of concern. Our aim is to get these new products rolling before the onset of rains in November.
With all the excitement created with the malaria prevention project I still had time to visit many other of our projects, most importantly that of water and sanitiation. Accompnied by James Baldwin and Peter Marsh, two civil engineers from our partners Just a Drop, we addressed the situation. To date we have installed some fifteen bore holes in rural schools and villages, but there are many more areas of need, one of those being Nampuyani where school children are drinking our of shallow wells shared by domestic animals. This causes diarrhoal disease, therefore we intend to add a bore hole and VIP latrines for the school.
During my stay I had the pleasure of meeting the Larsgard family from Norway, who have been supporting our orphan sponsorship program for the past five years. They came to Mukuni Village and were introduced to seven of the ten orphans they are sponsoring. As always the sponsor an orphan program plays a vital roll in our work to create sustainable futures for the communities. Some three hundred individual children are currently being sponsored and five students are partaking in further education. We are introducing a workshop to teach skills for those for are unable to seek employment.
On the 7th and 8th May William Anderson and twelve of his former school friends, celebrating their 50th birthday year, spent two days volunteering for The Butterfly Tree. They had raised funds to built four community houses for widows looking after orphans. In addition they played sport with the children and donated educational supplies and clothing. William, the creative Director of The Team Works mentored grade 12 pupils and schools leavers.
As always it was both a rewarding and humbling experience visiting the many schools and villages we support. Once the new malaria prevention project takes off we aim to reach out to thousands more communites to prevent the dehabilitating malaria and Roble diseases.