CONAKRY, Guinea — In an effort to reduce malaria transmission, RTI International led a mass distribution of more than two million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets in Guinea.
The nets were issued at no-cost to nearly 500,000 households in 14 prefectures, achieving a coverage rate of almost 95 percent in approximately half the country within a week. The distribution campaign is expected to distribute an additional 500,000 long-lasting insecticide-treated nets to more than 250,000 households in Conakry in April 2014.
The project, StopPalu, is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as part of the President’s Malaria Initiative to reduce malaria-related deaths in Africa by 50 percent in countries with a high rate of the mosquito-borne illness.
“One of the most effective ways to prevent malaria is to sleep under a long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net,” said Aissata Fofana, chief of party in the International Development Group at RTI and project manager of StopPalu. “Our project aims to significantly reduce the population’s risk of malaria transmission and mortality by providing bed nets and service to help hang up the nets at no-cost.”
Malaria is the leading communicable disease in Guinea, accounting for 33 percent of outpatient visits and more than 14 percent of deaths in public health facilities, including hospitals and health centers. According to a 2012 demographic and health survey, less than 30 percent of the most vulnerable populations, pregnant women and children, slept under a bed net.
The Guinea Ministry of Health partnered with the distribution campaign to adopt a strategy to provide one net per sleeping space.
In preparation for the distribution, RTI staff members conducted visits to determine the number of bed nets needed per household. Households were issued coupons and instructed to redeem their free bed nets at the distribution sites. Each distribution site was operated by five staff members, men and women, who have been trained to educate the public on correct usage and maintenance.
To further educate the public, the RTI team also launched an interactive radio program to explain the consequences of malaria and the importance of using the insecticide-treated bed nets. The radio program allowed listeners to call in to express their concerns, opinions and receive answers to questions.
“The radio campaign helped increase the population’s acceptance of bed nets and furthered the amount of households who acknowledge using their nets after listening to the radio program,” Fofana said.
RTI staff members also trained 19 Guinean artists who produced a song to communicate key messages in local languages about the importance of using insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria.
The mass distribution of insecticide-treated nets was funded by the President’s Malaria Initiative through USAID. In light of USAID/PMI investment in the campaign, UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank provided additional funds and nets to the campaign and reached two more districts.
The project aims to achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goals for universal long lasting insecticide-treated nets coverage.