Sierra Leone begins bed net distribution against malaria

Sierra Leone has kicked off bed net distributions to help protect its population against malaria, which remains one of the country’s most deadly diseases.

In total, 4.3 million insecticide treated bed nets will be distributed through the landmark nationwide campaign, the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) reported.

It said at a national event in Makeni district, the initiative was launched by Vice President Victor Foh along with UN, NGOs and community partners.

“The free bed nets are very important to use everywhere in the country,” she said. “Almost everyone here has been affected by malaria. The bed nets are essential because they will save women and their families from the terrible experience of losing a child.”

Sierra Leone is one of the most severely malaria-burdened nations in Africa, with its entire population of 7 million people at risk of the disease. The UN health agency estimates that every year, malaria kills over 5,000 children under 5 years of age in the country. It also contributes to life-threatening complications among pregnant women.

For these reasons, efforts to end maternal and child mortality will depend on winning the battle against malaria, and treated bed nets are undoubtedly one of the most effective tools for prevention, it said.

With support from partners, households will receive vouchers which they can exchange for the nets, and demonstrations will be given so that they are educated about their proper use and maintenance.

WHO said community engagement is also ongoing to encourage people to sleep under the nets every night, everywhere, and educate people on the health risks associated with the disease.

The campaign is being led by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation with support from UK aid, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the European Union, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.