The government of Liberia on Wednesday launched a massive anti-malaria campaign, aimed at distributing two million mosquito nets across the country to help Liberian parents protect their children from the deadly scourge (curse) of malaria.
The First Lady of Liberia, Ambassador Clar M. Weah, at the celebration of World Malaria Day at the Paynesville City Hall on Wednesday, April 25, distributed the first few sets of the nets to parents. The rest of the nets—two million in all, are to be distributed throughout the country.
Ambassador Weah urged all Liberian parents to use the mosquito nets properly, in order to ensure the successful implementation of the National Malaria Strategic Plan, which aims at reducing the morbidity and mortality of malaria by 50% by 2020—that is two years from now.
Should Liberians, especially our parents, seriously and effectively participate in the implementation of this Strategic Plan, they could cause our country to eliminate malaria in four years—by 2022! That would be a MAJOR success story for the new government of President George Manneh Weah.
But all of us—all Liberians and all of our foreign residents—must become actively involved in this campaign, to ensure that this goal is realized. Recent statistics show that the disease is responsible for 42% of out-patient attendance and 39% of inpatient deaths.
“These statistics leave no room for complacency . . . they challenge us to do better and bring down the threat of malaria,” First Lady Weah declared. Alarmed by the massive fatality (deaths) caused by malaria in Liberia, Madam Weah called for “collective efforts to protect the Liberian population from the disease.
Despite tremendous efforts by the Liberian government in partnership with Global Fund and the President’s Malaria Initiative of the United States government,” she said, “more needs to be done to nip the disease in the bud.” A BIG part of that “more” that needs to be done is left with ALL THOSE DISTRIBUTING THE MOSQUITO NETS in Liberia.
The World Health Organization, Plan International and other partners have for generations been donating to the country tens, even hundreds of thousands of treated mosquito nets. Unfortunately, because of the corrupt behavior of some government functionaries, large portions of these nets have been sold on the streets of Monrovia and elsewhere, and have, therefore, failed to reach those for whom it was primarily intended—our children, most of whom are in the poor and powerless category.
It is our hope and prayer that THIS TIME, the Ministry of Health, especially the new Minister, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, and her team in the Ministry, and the staff of Plan International will make sure that these nets are freely and effectively distributed.
But there are many parents and children, especially those in the slum communities and in distant places around the country, who will not even hear about the availability of these mosquito nets. We urge the Health Ministry, especially Minister Jallah and her team assigned to the distribution, to engage the media, especially the radio stations, in getting the message across to the public.
Parents should be told where to go to collect the mosquito nets. More importantly, the Health Ministry and Plan International should walk or drive into the slums areas, such as Soul Clinic, Gorbachov and Paynesville Red Light markets, Pipeline, Soniwein, Water Side and Douala market areas to distribute the nets.
The Ministry and Plan International should also ensure that these mosquito nets are evenly distributed throughout the country, and there should be NO SELLING of these nets. Should the government succeed in the free and even distribution of the nets, there is a good chance that they would be widely used to contain the deadly mosquitoes.
And if and when this is done, we may well achieve the government’s target, 50% wiping out of this deadly disease by 2020. Let us all work effectively and hard to achieve this noble and timely goal.