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    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.


    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.


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Inspired by Religion

The inspiring words of the good book is the main reason Ghanaians have benefitted from over seven million bed nets distributed through the charitable work of NETSFORLIFE.

Not many people interpret the scriptures this way but some institutions believe in providing for the less fortunate in society.

And it is all in the belief that one day the good Lord will reward the charitable ones and declare “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

NETSFORLIFE, a project of the Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), the international relief and development arm of the Episcopal (Anglican) church of the United States, has since 2006, distributed 7,025,125 mosquito nets in Ghana, based on the scripture.

It has even exceeded its target with the assistance of its corporate sponsors, such as ExxonMobil, the American multi-national Oil and Gas Corporation, the Standard Chartered Bank and the Coca-Cola Foundation.
Dr Stephen Dzisi, Technical Director, Health Programmes at the Africa Regional Office of the agency in Accra, praised ExxonMobil for being supportive by providing the nets as well as the resources for monitoring and evaluation, among other things.

Dr Dzisi was emphatic that “as a medical practitioner, I believe prevention of malaria is always cheaper than cure.”

With NETSFORLIFE, countries which used to distribute nets through the fixed point distribution such as, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria have now changed their strategy and are now hanging the nets directly in the households.

The ERD derives its mandate from Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:37-40-(New Revised Standard Version), which says “Then the righteous will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?  And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?  Truly I tell you, just as you did it to the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

According to Ms Gifty Tetteh, Liaison Officer at the Africa Regional Office, the distribution of the nets were geared towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal six which urges nations and development partners to work towards combating HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases.
Together with the worldwide church and other ecumenical partners, ERD strengthens communities to meet the MDGs.  It also rebuilds after disasters and empowers people in other endeavours.

Under Phase 1 which spanned October 2006 to October 2008, 1.5 million nets were distributed in eight African countries. Phase 2 began in October 2008 and ended on December 2011 and covered 17 countries under it, 5.7 million nets were distributed.

Over 43,000 Malaria Control Agents were also trained and 9.3 million people reached with malaria messages. Under Phase 3 which took off from January 2012 – there has been a shift towards integration, incorporating interventions such as rapid diagnostic tests for malaria, maternal and child health, water and sanitation.

The Coca Cola Foundation partnered NETSFORLIFE to distribute 1,000 nets. At the Ningo area where the net distribution project commenced in April, last year, 1,000 nets were distributed on World Malaria Day.

Ms Tetteh said the project was able to beat its target by 1½ years and hung 7 million nets.
NETSFORLIFE was also able to influence national policy in several countries.

According to Ms Tetteh the major challenge facing NETSFORLIFE currently is in-country net sourcing.  It has shifted from purchasing nets to sourcing nets in-country.  This is a new skill by which partners negotiate and source nets locally.

The future of the project, she said, lies in increased collaboration, partnership and bringing on board, more interventions.

Integration makes the programme more holistic, as long as communities continue to suffer from malaria.  There is therefore the need to work with them, identify their needs and address the shortcomings, she added.

The agency also works with the Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organization (ADDRO) in the Eastern, Ashanti, Northern, Western, Upper East and Upper West Regions.

In all these communities, leaders were mobilized to serve as links with the people. “They are trained on how to hang nets and give the correct messages on malaria”. A register of beneficiaries is also kept to monitor the success of the programme, and evaluations carried out every six weeks, with quarterly follow ups.

During the periodic monitoring and evaluation sessions, the volunteers find out the rate of usage of the mosquito nets and follow up to the clinics on whether malaria cases have gone down.

By the monitoring exercises, NETFORLIFE discusses with the health centres other areas of intervention or collaboration.

Ms Tetteh identified areas of intervention to include the provision of Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs) and the intake of Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine (SP) for pregnant women.

Ms Delia Awusi, the Business Development Manager said NETSFORLIFE approached Vodafone U.K and in March got its counterpart in Ghana, to distribute about 1,000 nets at Sasabi, near Oyibi in the Greater Accra Region. And all this is geared at helping Ghana achieve Universal Coverage with bed nets.

In the Upper East, ADDRO is working with partners such as the National Malaria Control programme USAID and DFID.

Ms Awusi said her team use behaviour change strategies and communication, to get the people in mosquito endemic villages to agree to let volunteers to hang the nets in their rooms.

They have been able to dispel some of the myths of the people that sleeping under mosquito nets make them feel like corpses.
They have equally succeeded in encouraging the people to attend the hospital for malaria treatment.

By James Addy

Special Edition