The Hang Up Your Net Campaign, conducted by the Ghana Health Service, with support from UNICEF and DFID, has led to a dramatic increase in mosquito net ownership to 90 percent from 60 per cent in 2011 in Northern Ghana, according to an independent evaluation released today by UNICEF.
The campaign, one of the first of its kind in the world, saw thousands of volunteers go door to door to hang up 12.8 million insecticide treated bed nets in people’s homes across the ten districts of Ghana.
Malaria is the leading cause of death in children in Ghana, accounting for 18 per cent of under-five deaths. By sleeping under a mosquito net, malaria deaths can be reduced by 20 percent. Insecticide Treated Nets form a cornerstone in Ghana’s strategy to reduce malaria-related morbidity and mortality by 75 per cent by 2015. The campaign, which ran until November 2012, is expected to lead to reductions in child mortality in Ghana. By changing the way nets were distributed, by bringing them into people’s home, hanging them and demonstrating how to use them to keep mosquitos out, the campaign has gone beyond just mass distribution or hand out demonstrations at public clinics.
“ The impact of this study clearly demonstrates that we can reduce the number of children dying from malaria, by making sure families understand better the importance of sleeping under mosquito nets”, said Sarah Hague, Acting UNICEF Ghana Representative. In the three worst affected parts of this country, we have seen a dramatic increase in coverage and we expect this will lead to a reduction in malaria cases this rainy season.”
The results of the independent evaluation, which was conducted this year by a team of experts and commissioned by UNICEF and DFID, allow the Government to pinpoint the sub-districts which need more nets, and where exactly families missed out.
“As part of our global effort to reduce child deaths, the UK Government is pleased to be part of this unique hang-it -up campaign in Ghana. The results are excellent and will help prevent children under five dying from this deadly but preventable disease,” said DFID Ghana Country Director Sally Taylor.
National Malaria Control Program manager Dr. Constance Bart-Plange said the impact had been dramatic, especially in the three northern regions.
“In the Upper East Region for example, only 52% of households owned a mosquito net in 2011. After the Hang Up campaign, that figure nearly doubled to 94%,” she said. But more importantly, usage has increased.”
The evaluation found nearly 80% of children under five in the Upper East Region slept under a mosquito net. That increased from 45% in 2011.
Community theatre performances, radio shows, school activities, house-to-house visits and community durbars also were used to help educate the public and promote the Keep Up Your Nets message. The campaign that is continuing has given prizes to the best communities who are collectively making sure everyone sleeps under a net.
“Children under five are particularly at risk of malaria, and too many still die of the disease. If they stay up, these nets are going to save lives.” UNICEF Chief of Health Anirban Chatterjee said. Encouraging people to keep on sleeping under their nets will be key to the ongoing success of the campaign.
Source: myjoyonline.com/ Jeffrey Nyabor