THE Government of United States through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has distributed nearly 630,000 insecticide treated bed nets (ITNs) to every registered household across Zanzibar.
The nets were procured through the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international financing and partnership organisation. It is expected that each bed net will protect two people against malaria.
Malaria is caused by a single-cell parasite which enters the blood of a person following the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito.
In recent years, Zanzibar has seen an uptick in reported cases. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of registered malaria cases increased by 68 per cent, reflecting an outbreak that prompted an increase in the distribution of bed nets.
ITNs have been proven to reduce malaria illness, severe disease, and death due to malaria by protecting people from mosquito bites while sleeping.
ITNs maintain effective levels of insecticide to repel mosquitoes for approximately three years, even after repeated washing. Tanzania’s significant progress against malaria is highlighted in the PMI 15th Annual Report. For example, ownership of insecticide treated bed nets has increased to 78 per cent (up from 23 per cent in 2005).
PMI has been a proud partner of Tanzania since 2006, helping to decrease child death rates by 40 per cent through investments totaling almost 613 million US dollars through last year.
In the past four years, US $176m have been contributed to deliver life-saving medicines, high-quality diagnostic testing, and training for over 4,700 health workers.
Through close collaboration with the people, institutions, and governments of Tanzania and Zanzibar, the US government also strengthens health systems to reinforce and amplify Tanzania’s efforts to end the deadly, yet entirely preventable,disease.
Commenting on the successful ITN distribution campaign, USAID Mission Director Kate Somvongsiri remarked: “The governments of Tanzania and Zanzibar have made admirable progress in improving the quality and delivery of malaria services over the past several years. Our close collaboration is reducing malaria deaths and substantially decreasing malaria prevalence with the long-term goal of elimination.”