PMI Works for a Bed Net for Every Sleeping Space in Southeast Nigeria

Speeches Shim

Friday, April 24, 2020
Bed nets ready for transport by water to hard-to-reach areas of Cross River.
Breakthrough Action-Nigeria

Cross River State, Nigeria – Despite several of her six children having fallen sick with malaria, some more than once, Philomena Edet had never owned a mosquito net.

Philomena initially thought more about the disease economically.   Frequent trips to the district health clinic to treat her children’s frequent bouts with malaria dipped painfully into income from her small business selling kerosene as cooking fuel. 

 Philomena was thinking on these terms when she came across a mosquito net distribution effort in her state, a collaboration by the Cross River state Ministry of Health and the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).  The distribution effort was intense, crossing the vast network of streams and marshes that mark the topography of the southeastern Nigeria to reach its most remote areas, including Philomena’s village.

 At the distribution, Philomena was thrilled to receive her mosquito net, and an education as well.  In addition to learning how to use and care for the net, such as airing it in the shade for a day before putting it up, she learned sobering facts about malaria too.  Like the fact that it kills more children in Nigeria than any other disease.  And that one out of every 10 who contracts malaria dies from it every year.

 “I am so happy that I got nets for me and my children,” Philomena said. “I never thought that they could so easily die from it too.  Now I don’t have to worry about the treatment costs, but more important the danger.  This will keep them out of hospital.”

 “No more mosquitos, no more malaria.”

 In a survey taken after the last distribution, where we caught up with Philomena, 80 percent of pregnant women reported sleeping under their new nets nightly.  Likewise, caregivers reported more than 70 percent of children under five in recipient households slept inside their nets within the first week.

 Thanks to the efforts of PMI and other partners, the needle is moving in Nigeria.  The percentage of children under five who sleep inside treated nets increased from 28 percent in 2013 to 74 percent in 2018, according to the latest Demographic and Health Survey.

Across Nigeria, PMI is supporting federal and state Health officials meet a lofty goal of ensuring at least 80 percent of pregnant women and 80 children under five sleep under a long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito net (LLIN) every night to protect themselves from malaria. 

In Cross River PMI, through implementing partners - Breakthrough Action-Nigeria  (BA-N) and the Global Health Supply Chain – Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) program - distributed over 2.3 million nets to cover more than four million residents.  They also built the capacity of more than 11,000 household mobilizers, health educators, and town announcers in support of the state-managed distribution process.

To raise awareness, BA-N also produced 12 radio spots in four local languages that aired 3,000 times on five radio stations across the state, empowered health educators across 1,000 distribution points, and built the capacity of 30 media personnel on the net distribution process and the role of journalists in combating malaria in Cross River State.

GHSC-PSM helped ensure that the logistics of storage and transportation of the mosquito nets and distribution materials were properly managed with the Cross River State Ministry of Health for an optimized distribution process.

Since 2011, PMI has procured 57 million insecticide-treated nets, valued at $126 million as part of a $635 million overall contribution to malaria control in Nigeria to date.  PMI also supports advocacy to encourage members of the community to sleep under the bed nets every night, and trains health workers to test for malaria before treatment.