NetsforLifeSM partnership successful in combating malaria in Africa

September 13, 2007

Episcopal Relief and Development's (ERD) NetsforLifeSM malaria partnership is providing life-saving protection to children and families in 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The program is protecting close to 700,000 people, including mothers and vulnerable children who are most susceptible to contracting the disease.

The NetsforLifeSM partnership encompasses ERD and a number of private individuals and corporations including ExxonMobil Foundation, Standard Chartered Bank and the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. Christian Aid is playing a key role as well. The Episcopal Church's Millennium Development Goal Inspiration Fund supports NetsforLifeSM.

In its second year, NetsforLifeSM has distributed 328,708 long-lasting insecticide-treated nets in eight countries including Angola, Kenya and Zambia since June 2007. The program has trained more than 3,400 malaria agents, or community volunteers, who have reached more than 500,000 people directly with malaria prevention messages.

"In sample areas where ERD has evaluated NetsforLifeSM's outcomes, knowledge of malaria transmission has increased from a baseline figure of 50% to 80% of the population," said Dr. Stephen Dzisi, recently appointed director of NetsforLifeSM. "Increased knowledge in a community dramatically increases its health and can be observed in Angola, Burundi, Kenya and Mozambique."

NetsforLifeSM was recognized during the White House Summit on Malaria last December, and in April, ERD testified in Congress to the Foreign Affairs sub-committee on Africa and Global Health.

Each day, approximately 3,000 children die from malaria. "NetsforLifeSM ensures that as part of its education programs caregivers are able to recognize childhood malaria at the home level and take appropriate steps towards effective treatment and care," said Dzisi. "Overall, there has been an increase in the proportion of caregivers who can identify a child with malaria from about 58% to 80%. Remarkable improvements were noted in Angola, Burundi and Mozambique."

NetsforLifeSM also aims to increase communities' knowledge about the new and most effective Artemisinine-based Combination Therapy (ACTs), particularly as treatment policies change across Africa. Thus far, knowledge of ACTs has risen from almost 10% to more than 40%.

Dzisi promoted as new NetsforLifeSM director
"Stephen has worked to carry out NetsforLifeSM with implementing partners in 16 African countries and has been instrumental in designing the program's monitoring and evaluation protocols," said Robert W. Radtke, ERD president. In this new role, Dzisi will oversee the day-to-day management of NetsforLifeSM.

Prior to joining ERD as program officer for Africa in 2006, Dzisi was a project officer for UNICEF and held various positions in Ghana's health care system. He holds a Master of Science in International Health from Humboldt University in Berlin and earned his medical degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. Dzisi is an expert in infant and child mortality in Africa.

Further information on NetsforLifeSM is available here.

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