According to the World Health Organisation in 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries, an increase of 5 million cases over 2015.
Malaria deaths reached 445 000 in 2016, a similar number (446 000) to 2015.
With the above statistics it’s hardly surprising that global organisations and drug companies have stepped up their efforts to find a cure and a vaccination to fight malaria.
Working in some of the remotest communities in Africa it is easy to see how a case of malaria can spread, and quickly turn into an outbreak. With poor medical facilities, combined with the lack of malaria testing kits and antimalarial drugs, the nurses and medical officers have a constant battle in trying to control malaria.
Until a cure is found, or a vaccination is offered on a mass scale, malaria prevention is crucial to avoid contracting this potentially deadly disease. Mosquito nets are the most essential form of protection and a must for infants and pregnant women. Sadly, people in developing countries cannot afford to buy them and their governments largely rely on International Aid.
Over the past 12 years we have distributed thousands of mosquito nets as well as funding malaria prevention workshops, throughout the Kazungula District of Zambia. In addition to the nets, in 2015 we started using Vectorcide’ s safe insecticidal coating and larvicide granules. The results have been quite remarkable, with the number of malaria cases being considerably reduced.
After much success in Mukuni Chiefdom, in 2017 we ventured into Moomba Chiefdom, some 300 km from our base. We were told that no other charity had ever offered support, and that there was a high prevalence of malaria, with 46% of the population being infected. Following a distribution of mosquito nets in July we applied the insecticidal coating and larvicide granules in December last year.
In January and February 2018 only 51 cases of malaria were recorded, compared to 502 in 2017. The number shows a reduction of 90%. We were recently told by the Ministry of Health that a record had been broken – ‘Moomba has recorded the lowest ever number of malaria cases.’ Our aim this month is to ensure that the entire Moomba population is protected.
By offering communities mosquito nets, applying safe insecticidal coating on the walls of their homes, and dispersing larvicide granules in ponds and streams, universal coverage is provided. We have proved that this is one of the most effective and advanced ways of helping to eradicate malaria. The coating works far better and lasts much longer (up to two years) than indoor residual spraying, which is effective only for 3 to 6 months.
None of this can be achieved without donor funding and experts on the ground. We are extremely lucky to have Sibeso Maseka, an Environmental Health Technician, on our team of volunteers in Zambia. She continually trains and motivates community health workers to be aware of the importance of early testing and administering treatment to prevent complications. These local people play a crucial role in the success of this programme.
We recently moved into Nyawa Chiefdom to target new areas that are recording high numbers of malaria cases. 650 mosquito nets have been donated and three villages are receiving the new intervention.
The Butterfly Tree is making a small, but significant difference in the fight against malaria, but we need more funds to be able to reach out to the most vulnerable areas.
A mosquito nets costs just £4 and a house can be coated for £15. Please donate to this vital cause: http://www.thebutterflytree.org.uk/pages/get-involved/online-donations