The Canadian government will donate around $17.6 million to the Canadian Red Cross to go toward mosquito net distribution in Africa.
The funds will enable the organization to expand its malaria-control program this year and distribute 2.1 million free mosquito nets in Burkina-Faso and 600,000 in Madagascar, according to a release of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent posted Tuesday at the Reuters and AlertNet Web site.
This donation follows Canada’s previous contribution of about $22.9 million, which had enabled the Canadian Red Cross to donate more that 2.5 million mosquito nets in six African countries, the release said.
These were Zambia, Togo, Niger, Mozambique, Malawi and Sierra Leone, where the Canadian Red Cross has worked with the international federation on malaria programs, said Jean Roy, senior public health adviser for the Geneva-based federation.
“Combining the strengths of the Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies with those of other partners is the ideal ‘recipe’ for coordinated and scaled-up efforts that achieve impact,” he said.
“The services that Red Cross volunteers provide such as extra manpower for large scale campaigns and for community mobilization, ensure that donor inputs are properly delivered and correctly used after these campaigns,” Roy added.
The malaria-control efforts will help countries reach the UN Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, the release said.
“Together, we are supporting proven and cost-effective initiatives that will address the urgent, unmet needs of countries that bear a very high burden of malaria,” said Pierre Duplessis, secretary-general of the Canadian Red Cross.
Mosquito net distribution has proven a cost-effective and successful way to help prevent malaria in sub-Saharan Africa where 90 percent of malaria deaths occur, the release said.
According to the Canadian Red Cross, purchasing a bed net, distributing it to families and training them to use it properly cost around $6.17, which is cost effective.
The Canadian government announced its donation on Tuesday. “Through [this] investment to the Canadian Red Cross, Canada is contributing to programs in Africa like the Malaria Bednet Campaign that are resulting in thousands of lives saved,” said Josee Vernier, Canadian minister of International Cooperation and minister for francophone affairs and official languages.
Last year, the Canadian Red Cross led its sixth and largest bed-net campaign in Sierra Leone, the release said.
Coordinated by the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health, nearly 875,000 nets were distributed with the help of the Sierra Leone Red Cross.
Some 90 percent of the country’s children under 5 years old were reached in the campaign that also included measles vaccination, vitamin A distribution and deworming treatments, which is expected to save the lives of 5,000 children in the first year alone, the release said.