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    Make Malaria History

    The importance of nets in a comprehensive malaria program

    Posted on September 20, 2013 by jessicanipp
    Lucas Owuor-Omondi coordinates the Lutheran Malaria Program of the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa.

    Lucas Owuor-Omondi coordinates the Lutheran Malaria Program of the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa.

    Lucas Owuor-Omondi is one of the global Lutheran partners who are implementing malaria programs with support from the ELCA Malaria Campaign.  Lucas coordinates the LUCSA Malaria Program, which is an umbrella organization that supports 5 (soon to be 6) Lutheran Malaria Programs in Southern Africa—programs in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and soon also in Namibia.

    During a visit to Zimbabwe in March, Lucas was asked about the importance of long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nts to the malaria programs in Southern Africa.  His answer to that question can be seen in this video below.

    In the video, Lucas references the “four pillars,” which are the four key elements of the Lutheran Malaria Programs in Southern Africa.  They are:

    1.)    Increasing the capacity of Lutheran churches to do excellent malaria work (through training and support of staff)

    2.)    Malaria Prevention and Control (through community education, use of nets, removing mosquito breeding grounds, etc.)

    3.)    Malaria Diagnosis and Treatment (through access to medication and rapid diagnostic tests, training of health professionals and volunteers, and strengthening of Lutheran health facilities)

    4.)    Sustainable Livelihoods (through helping communities create Savings and Loans programs and supporting income-generating projects)

    As you watch the video, you’ll see that each of these key elements—each of these four pillars—is connected with each of the other three pillars.  These are comprehensive malaria programs that approach the issue of malaria from all angles, and always with a community perspective.

    Watch the video below, or find it our on YouTube page:

    Here is a transcript of Lucas’s words:

    “Zimbabwe is one of our five countries within the Regional Malaria Program. One of our interventions is, of course, the net. What we’re doing at the moment is: within our specific areas, we have gone through the process of educating, creating awareness, sensitization.  But now we have gone beyond that, to emphasize specifically on messages that are directed towards behavior change. We are already seeing some results.

    “But the challenge that we are faced with, is that the mother in that household (which is our unit of practice) has to make a very difficult decision: Which of the children—if she has 5 children—which of the children to have with[in] the net, and which of those children to have outside the net. So this presents itself with a challenge.  The government, of course, has done its bit in terms of providing nets, but still we have the problem of nets.

    Nets are one key component of a comprehensive, community-based malaria program.

    Nets are one key component of a comprehensive, community-based malaria program.

    “The most recent studies say that if we can get a 75% net coverage, we are moving in the direction of reducing malaria, the burden of malaria significantly, and [then] we can even talk about eradicating malaria.  So for us, the nets are central. If we can get that support to increase the number of nets that we are already providing, it will be a big plus in our program.

    “On our part, we are of course trying to address this through our fourth pillar, which is sustainable development. Through this we are trying to encourage income-generating activities. Hopefully that the money generated will go, part of it will go, into the purchase of nets. This is not a “wild card,” so to say, because we have seen it happen. [For example] in our Malawi program, where the program is using the self-help groups and Savings and Loan groups as an entry point, not only to educate the communities, but also to educate the surrounding communities other than the congregation.

    “So for us, nets [are] essential. Thank you very much. “

    And thank you, Lucas!

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