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Malaria: Global health communities celebrate 2 billion mosquito nets delivered worldwide

“I don’t fall sick because I’m using the nets.  I advise everyone to use nets to prevent malaria because malaria is a deadly disease.”

These were words of Clementina Akinyi, a high school student at Nyanza Province of Kenya in a video to celebrate the 16 years she had slept under the Insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) being provided freely to her parents.

Since 2004 to date, two billion mosquito nets have been delivered worldwide, according to the RBM Partnership to End Malaria that is leading the global malaria community in celebrating the milestone on Thursday.

In its press statement provided to The ICIR, RBM Partnership lauded the activities of The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the United States President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) that purchased and distributed 1.13 billion and 400 million nets respectively.

It also praised many nations’ governments and organisations including UNICEF, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the World Bank, the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets initiative and Against Malaria Foundation as they also made significant contributions to the two billion net milestones.

Marijke Winroks, Chief Staff, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and RBM Partnership to End Malaria board member said the project is important in order to break the transmission cycle of the fever and helping more countries on the path to elimination.

Clementina Akinyi, a high school student at Nyanza Province of Kenya

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that insecticide nets have saved lives and prevented suffering. He said they have brought two billion steps closer to the vision of a malaria-free world.

“With country leadership and global partnership, they (Insecticide nets) will continue to play a vital role in fulfilling that vision,” said Dr Tedros.

According to the latest World Malaria Report, between 2010 and 2018, the number of pregnant women and children under five in sub-Saharan Africa who slept under an insecticide-treated net more than doubled, up from 26 per cent to 61 per cent.

“The development and scale-up of these nets are responsible for 68 per cent of the malaria cases prevented in Africa since 2000, contributing to global efforts that saved more than 7 million lives and prevented more than 1 billion malaria cases,” the report read in part.

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Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO, RBM Partnership to End Malaria noted the need to continue investing in developing, testing and scaling up nets with new insecticides and active ingredients to conquer the “evolving mosquito”.

While current evidence suggests that nets treated with pyrethroid insecticides continue to be effective against the mosquito, resistance to pyrethroids is widespread and highest in the WHO African Region. A pyrethroid is the “only insecticide class currently used in ITNs”.

To combat insecticide resistance, malaria fighting groups are developing, testing and scaling up nets with new insecticides and harnessing data to better target where to distribute current and new nets.

Some of the new nets that include combinations of insecticides and other active ingredients have been approved by WHO, it stated. Some others are being piloted to build the epidemiological evidence needed for their public health value to inform WHO policy recommendations and to assess the cost-effectiveness of the nets under pilot conditions.

The Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) led implementation of the pilot New Nets Project in 2019 in Burkina Faso. This project would expand to Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria and Rwanda in 2020. The pilot project was funded by the Global Fund and Unitaid, with supplementary funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and U.S. Agency for International Development.

Nigeria has consistently been identified as a high burden country worst-hit with malaria. The 2019 World Malaria Report stated that 57 million of Nigerians had malaria in 2018. In 2017, the total cases were 53 million.

Not only was the country hit with malaria, but thousands have also died due to the preventable and curable disease.

The report stated in that 95,000 Nigerians died of malaria in 2018, the highest in the world. And it shows that 11 Nigerians die every hour from malaria in the country.

This is despite being one of the countries that received a large sum of funding to resolve malaria issues in the country.

“Over the 2010–2018 period, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria received the largest amount of international funding,” part of the Malaria Report read.

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