Jan 18th, 2013 9:41 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Guest blog post from Malaria No More.
Last summer the Confederation of African Football endorsed United Against Malaria partnership – of which Malaria No More is a key member – as a premier social cause of the most-followed events in Africa: the 2013 Cup of Nations (AFCON) football tournament.
The most revered champions of Africa’s best loved sport talking about malaria during Africa’s most watched public events? A captive audience of 6.6 billion people, most of them living in malaria-endemic Africa? What could be more captivating!
The biggest names in African football and the top political leaders in Africa’s malaria fight signed onto the campaign, and lent their time to record public messages about malaria for their African audience. These include five elite footballers and five African presidents, including football legends Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o, and the first-ever female African head of state, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. TV, radio ads, and billboards were created which feature the players and presidents, targeting policy-makers and decision makers about investments in malaria programs, as well promoting calls-to-action with simple steps to prevent and treat malaria.
Didier Drogba’s Malaria Prevention PSA
To ensure these malaria messages are heard by football fanatics continent-wide, 10 pan-African TV/radio stations, including the biggest radio station in Africa and the official football tournament channel, advertisements in over 10 countries, and 75 billboards in more than 13 countries are helping get the job done.
In addition to the tremendous media support, the campaign launched at the African Union Summit to include more African Heads of State, and a TV spot about the campaign aired during the AFCON Draw and East Africa CECAFA tournament. During the AFCON games, the campaign will be included during AFCON half-times (when football fans are already tuned into watch their favorite footballers), in AFCON sportscasters’ dialogue during televised games, and at the AFCON Final Game’s closing ceremony?
Football stars in malaria prevention billboards around Africa
For Africa’s social media users, a 2-minute quiz is available on the United Against Malaria Facebook page for the chance to win Drogba-autographed swag, like a football or a jersey.
Dec 3rd, 2012 6:55 PM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
Our next finalist for the 2012 ONE Africa Award is the dynamic organization Friends of the Global Fund Africa, or better known as Friends Africa. I visited Friends Africa in Lagos last month to hear their incredible story.
After serving as a technical advisor on Global Fund-financed projects in Nigeria for three years in the early 2000s, Dr. Akudo Ikemba realized that more needed to be done in order to ensure the effectiveness of Global Fund monies on the ground. She also saw an untapped need to raise awareness and support for the Global Fund amongst African citizens. When she saw some of the work being done by Friends of the Fight (USA) and Amis du Fonds Mondial and other Global Fund partners, she realized that Africa needed its own “Friends” that could bring governments, business leaders and citizens together to build support for the Global Fund and further its work by raising funds and commitments from African political and corporate leaders. At about the same time, the Global Fund invited Dr. Ikemba to discuss the formation of a partner organization for Africa and a few months later, Friends Africa officially opened its door in Lagos.
Since 2006, Friends Africa has been at the forefront of building and demonstrating African support for the Global Fund. It has raised commitments of $31 million through its Africa Champions from Health campaign, which enlists former heads of states and political leaders to call on African governments to support the the fund’s work. Through its Gift from Africa program, it has secured an additional $5 million from the private and corporate sectors for the Global Fund since 2010.
How does it do this? By strategically using former African heads of state, titans of business, and artists to engage governments and leading enterprises to obtain commitments for the Global Fund. As the developed world faces budget and fiscal crises, it is increasingly important for the developing world to not only support the work of institutions like the Global Fund, but also contribute to its functioning and financing. Friends Africa is doing just this.
Raising the funds and financing for an institution like the Global Fund, though, is just one side of the coin that is Friends Africa. In addition to its high level advocacy, Friends Africa is changing the face of the fight against HIV, malaria and tuberculosis every day. They have extensive programs that are building capacity at local, national and regional levels to engage in advocacy and direct services in their communities. Moreover, Friends Africa is also leading the charge in engaging small to medium enterprises – not just corporate giants – on the policies they have in place for their employees facing these diseases. Friends Africa is truly leading an African response to an African problem, taking the fight to the board rooms and the store rooms of African businesses. To truly turn the tide against these killer diseases, Friends Africa has gone where many have yet to tread—to the enterprising leaders and employers of a bulk of Africa’s hardworking citizens. Friends Africa is not only funding the fight, but also changing the face of these diseases to reduce stigmatization and stereotypes.
And while high-level and grassroots advocacy is a big part of Friends Africa’s work, Friends also produces reports that policy makers and citizens can use around the continent. They are impacting the debates without necessarily being in the room, and leveraging a network of consultants to provide technical assistance to governments seeking funding for reproductive health and HIV projects. As one can see, Friends Africa not only advocates at all levels, but also provides its own substantive contribution to the ongoing struggle against these diseases.
Nov 16th, 2012 6:13 PM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
Founded in 1997 and formally registered as a Community Based Organization in 1999, a group of small-scale farmers in rural Western Kenya established MFCG with the mission to protect and conserve Kakamega Forest. Kakamega Forest, covering an area of 240 km2 and containing more than a thousand unique species of flora and fauna, is Kenya’s last remaining rainforest, which was once part of the vast equatorial Congo-Guinean forest that stretched from the continent’s Atlantic coast to its Indian one. The farmers that founded MFCG saw an acute, urgent need to raise awareness in the local communities of the dire state of the forest and to support the local and national governments’ efforts to conserve the forest.
MFCG initially began by using traditional advocacy methods to reach out to their communities to educate them about the forest. It wasn’t easy at first in trying to share the message that the forest had to be protected. In particular, MFCG had to convey the intense pressure Kakamega Forest had come under over the years due to the growing and increasingly impoverished population found in western Kenya. The forest was a readily available, go-to resource for firewood, game meat, and wild fruit and vegetables. While the local population had lived off the forest and its abundance for millennia, it was now becoming obvious that the forest would perish under the relenting demand for human growth and development. MFCG’s founding farmers quickly discovered that their goal of conserving the forest seemed to contravene their fellow community members’ most basic and overwhelming instincts for survival—often without regard for the environmental cost.
At this point, it dawned on MFCG that it must tie the preservation of the forest to the economic interests of its surrounding communities. Consequently, MFCG changed its approach and began highlighting how the communities relied on the forest for their survival and that if the forest were no longer there, how would the community survive? By underscoring the impending loss of these traditional natural resources, MFCG began changing the attitudes of the forest’s human communities. This and other activities increased MFCG’s credibility and eventually led to its recognition by outside organizations.
In 2000, MFCG began partnering with organizations like ICIPE, a Kenyan scientific research institute focused on using science to discover natural resources that could be developed and commercialized to promote the conservation of endangered environmental hotspots. ICIPE was and still is particularly concerned about those areas with an abundance of biodiversity and ecologically sensitive organisms. Having heard about MFCG’s efforts to conserve Kakamega Rainforest, ICIPE wanted to know if there were any particular traditional plants that the communities around Kakamega used. ICIPE and MFCG eventually settled upon the wild ocimum kilimandscharicum plant, which had been traditionally used to treat insect bites, muscle aches, colds and nasal congestion. ICIPE soon determined the active compound in the plant and began testing different products in which it could be commercialized. In the meantime, MFCG had to domesticate the plant so it could encourage farmers to grow the plant in order to provide enough of it to ICIPE as it began zeroing in on the best applications for its essential oils and extracts.
Fast forward a few years and MFCG now has 460 farmers growing ocimum, which provides an additional income to the farmer and creates employment at local processing and collection centers. The ocimum is distilled in Kakamega to its essential oils and crystals, which are then transported to Nairobi to be manufactured into the Naturub® brand of balms and ointments that are sold in stores and pharmacies throughout Kenya. Naturub® products can be most likened to Vick’s Vapor Rub® in the United States and elsewhere. Ocimum contains natural camphor, a compound that when inhaled helps clear nasal congestion and colds. It also can reduce inflammation and aches related to insect bites and muscle soreness. Moreover, MFCG, ICIPE and their commercial partners are exploring additional products to be produced from ocimum and other traditional plants from Kakamega.
Before MFCG had begun its work with the ocimum plant, 40% of the households surrounding Kakamega Forest had no sustainable source of income. Those households now participating in MFCG’s activities have a regular income, which puts their children in schools and provides food and shelter amongst other life necessities. MFCG can directly ties its activities and efforts to all of the world’s Millennium Development Goals. In particular, we at ONE acknowledge that MFCG is particularly effective at MDG 7 (ensuring environmental sustainability) while the income MFCG’s members earn enable them to eradicate extreme poverty (MDG 1), educate their children (MDG 2) and seek any necessary health treatments (MDGs 4, 5 & 6).
We’re proud to have MFCG as a finalist for this year’s ONE Africa Award!
Jun 19th, 2012 10:32 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Rakesh Rajani is a ONE member and the Head of Twaweza (meaning “we can make it happen” in Swahili), a 10-year initiative to enhance access to information, citizen agency, and public accountability in East Africa. Below is his contribution to USAID’s Frontiers in Development essays.
If there were a prize for global organizations most tainted with corruption, FIFA, the International Federation of Football (Soccer) Associations, would be a strong contender.
For years, its board members are said to have demanded, received, and dished out bribes for purposes such as vote buying and selling rights to host the World Cup. The “crony culture” inside FIFA has reportedly caused huge losses—about $100 million in one instance alone when an exclusive deal with a marketing company went belly-up. These acts have spawned investigations, books, and blogs seeking to expose the organization, but FIFA appears to have warded off serious reform. Its current boss has been in charge for 14 years and part of FIFA for 38. He ran unopposed in the last election, in part because his two rivals were disqualiﬁed for foul play. His predecessor had been at the helm for 24 years.
Precise numbers are difﬁcult to establish, but soccer has well over a billion supporters worldwide. Many of these tune in every week on radio, TV, and, increasingly, the Internet. More than 700 million are estimated to have watched the ﬁnal games of the World Cup in 2006 and 2010, across all six continents. It is easily the world’s biggest sport.
While growing up in Mwanza, Tanzania, listening to commentary of English league games on a crackly BBC shortwave transmission was the highlight of my week. Today, walk through East Africa’s bustling neighborhoods or rural communities on weekends, and you will likely see animated men and (increasingly) women listening to a duel between national rivals or watching Chelsea play Arsenal or Barcelona take on Real Madrid. You will see much of the same across large parts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. In many cases, these are communities that have no electricity and low incomes, but some entrepreneur will have rigged up a generator and an improvised satellite dish, and be turning a tidy proﬁt charging entrance fees.
It’s not only about relaxing in front of the TV. Soccer is among the most common topics on social media, radio call-in shows, and street corners. Crotchety pundits, hip pre-teens, and nerdy economists alike pore over team statistics to discern patterns, debate choices, and predict outcomes. It is public engagement interspersed with politics, business, and local drama, but soccer remains at the core. And soccer evokes great emotion. When there is a crucial goal or save, observe the poetry of celebration rituals or the slow motion implosions of defeat among both players and fans. It’s quite an experience.
Why does soccer work? Why, unlike so many badly governed public agencies, NGOs, and projects, is soccer so powerful, lively, and engaging? Could it be that soccer has got something so right, that it doesn’t much matter that its state of supra governance is somewhat shambolic? And if that is indeed the case, might it provide useful insights for how we think about development in countries where the intractable problems of supra governance will not be sorted out soon?
Soccer and development, while very different, have several features in common. I’ll highlight four. Both have purposes or goals to score. Both have rules and conventions of how things are to be done. Both have someone deciding whether conduct is right, imposing sanctions for foul behavior, and judging the ﬁnal outcome. And both have actors who need to be motivated and focused to deliver. But each handles these features very differently.
In Soccer, Success Is Clear and Simple
Soccer isn’t called the “beautiful game” for nothing. Players display enormous skill when dribbling, passing, and making daring dives and gravity-defying turns. Fans love these moves, and TV screens replay some of the best ones over and over, so that viewers can study the skill and savor the moment. Papers speak of the teams that play the most entertaining football. But all this skill is aligned toward a very simple and very clear purpose: to score more goals than the other team. Sure, a lot of other statistics are collected, such as the number of passes, number of fouls, percentage of possession, ages of the players, and so forth. The artistry is fun and appreciated, but what matters is how it contributes toward the purpose. What counts is the ﬁnal score.
The incentives are well aligned too, in the short and long term. You win the game, you celebrate, your team gets three points. Everyone involved—the players, the managers, the owners, the spectators—understand this. In the long term, those points and goals add up, and you move up the league table or on to the next round of the competition, until you win the cup. The better you perform, the more likely you are to earn a better salary.
Read the complete essay on page 18 of USAID’s Frontiers in Development publication.
Photo Credit: Kendra Helmer/USAID.
Jun 15th, 2012 9:30 AM UTC
By Mzwandile Sibanda
As part of our Thrive campaign in the Big Brother Africa House, we are providing some gardening tips from our very own expert gardener; Stephan (right), the man responsible for setting up the “Box Garden” that is currently in the house.
This is the first of a weekly series of gardening tips that Stephan and the ONE Africa team will be sharing with you all, and of course the Big Brother House mates.
Tips for “Box Garden” growing
The “Box Garden” is the box pictured below with the ONE and Thrive insignia, and it is normally used by people who either are working in confined spaces and/ or have bad or no soil.
This specific Box Garden is filled with a blend of sand, loam soil, compost and peat moss, and herein will be referred to as the growth medium. These tips are appropriate for various species of root vegetables, which will mature at some stage and then can be harvested.
How to grow vegetables successfully in your Box Garden
Feeding your vegetables
Regular watering is as important to growing vegetables as is sunlight, without a regular source of water; vegetables will not grow to their full potential. In some cases vegetables such tomatoes may even split if they absorbed a great deal of water in a short period of time, after being starved of water. Regular watering means two to three times a week.
Using fertilisers on your vegetables may improve the quality of your plants and accelerate their growing time. It is suggested that you use a mixture of fertiliser stock and fertiliser from a sachet, as this is what the Big Brother Africa house mates are doing. If you choose to do this, then you should add one sachet of fertiliser to 50ml of the stock solution, and then add that mixture to 10L of water. You should spray the plants no more than twice a week, spraying must be done after watering of the plants.
Protecting your vegetables
As it is winter here in South Africa, and certain areas are prone to frosting over at night, it is important to cover the plants overnight. White cheese cloth is suggested as an appropriate overnight cover; ensure you pull the cloth over the whole box to cover the plants once the sun has set.
Vegetables by their nature do not like to compete with weeds for nutrients and water. If you are starting out with a semi-sterilised medium then you are at an advantage, as is the case with the Big Brother house mates. Regardless, it is critical to prevent weeds growing in your box; any which are found should be removed.
For your Information;
Crop species in the Big brother Africa garden
• Lettuce (Red Butter)
• Lettuce (Green Butter)
• Spring Onions
• Swiss Chard
• Baby Cabbage (Red Rookie)
Check out the ONE Africa Blog next week for more tips!
Jun 13th, 2012 8:00 AM UTC
By Wangui Muchiri
Since launch popular reality TV series BIG BROTHER AFRICA has constantly sought to highlight important and relevant social causes as its way of contributing to the development of Africa and Africans. Watch the video to find out more:
In a significant strategic partnership forged this year, we have joined forces with M-Net’s Big Brother StarGame to promote THRIVE, an important anti-hunger initiative that promotes the idea of farming one’s own food.
ONE is delighted by this collaboration with M-Net. The Big Brother Africa platform presents a fantastic opportunity to highlight a plight faced by millions of Africans daily: Hunger and Malnutrition. Our ‘Thrive’ campaign aims at raising awareness, that targeted and smart investments in Agriculture, combined with nutritious diets can help pull 31 million Africans out of poverty and prevent 12 million children from stunted growth, by 2015.
As part of the campaign, housemates will be taught various skills on how to affordably andeasily improve their garden and crop production. This will include creating fertilizer and irrigation systems plus easy step-by-step methods of how to take care of a garden.
It is hoped that by demonstrating how to create and manage a vegetable garden, the housemates will illustrate to audiences the feasibility of doing the same. The ultimate result, for both the housemates, and for Africa at large, is to ensure the nurturing of healthy food sources.
Commenting on the initiative M-Net Africa Managing Director Biola Alabi says:
“We are very pleased to collaborate with such a worthwhile and vital project that aims to empower Africans and end hunger on the continent.
The Big Brother platform has previously been used successfully to promote the Millennium Development Goals; to highlight the fight against malaria and poverty; to increase awareness of HIV/Aids, to advocate support for orphans and vulnerable children, and to assist with the expansion of the bone marrow registry in Africa. We may be primarily an entertainment program but we recognize our responsibility to use our platform for purposes of education and development.:
Big Brother Africa is headline sponsored by Coca-Cola, produced by Endemol SA and screened live 24/7 on DStv channels 197 and 198. For more information, fans can log on to the website www.africamagic.tv/bigbrother, tweet Big Bro Africa or visit the Big Brother Facebook page.
Apr 25th, 2012 3:48 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
The following is a guest blog from Noella Moshi, United Against Malaria
Malaria kills nearly 700,000 people every year and costs sub-Saharan Africa up to 12 billion dollars in economic productivity, foreign investment, tourism and trade each year. It’s a huge barrier to economic development in affected countries and has life-altering, long-term repercussions for sick children. The good news is that the whole malaria mess can be fixed in our lifetime. Cue United Against Malaria into the picture.
United Against Malaria (UAM) is a conglomeration of private sectors, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and governments who have come together to rid the world of malaria once and for all. UAM was born amidst the explosive excitement of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. We rode this crest of energy and used it to create global awareness of malaria.
UAM uses a few key strategies to combat malaria throughout Africa, including educating organizations on malaria-safe practices, distributing mosquito nets (which act to prevent infection), and fundraising for the purchase and wider distribution of nets. Recently, the fundraising arm of UAM expanded to encompass merchandise sales, all in the name of malaria. The United Against Malaria bracelet is a brightly beaded symbol of the cause.
With World Malaria Day around the corner (April 25), UAM has powered up like never before in a huge drive to sell UAM bracelets for mosquito net distribution.
Here in South Africa, Cape Union Mart, Nando’s Chickenland, Exclusive Books, and several other private sector organizations, have risen to the occasion by stocking and selling UAM bracelets. Cape Union Mart has recently stocked 50,000 units to sell in the lead-up to World Malaria Day. Their stock is already thinning out; testament to the energy and involvement of every individual who bought a bracelet.
Also joining the push to sell bracelets is legendary African Explorer Kingsley Holgate. Kingsley has braved drastic terrain as he travelled through virtually inaccessible parts of the African continent to distribute mosquito nets.
As we contemplate World Malaria Day today, , we at UAM experience palpable excitement when we think of the number of nets that UAM bracelet sales will enable us donate. To all you bracelet buyers, past and future, thank you for your heartfelt giving, and for playing an important part in the worldwide plan to eradicate malaria.
Apr 25th, 2012 3:33 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Guest blog post by Jessie Seiler from Stomping Out Malaria in Africa
World Malaria Day is today, April 25, which means that Christmas has come in the springtime for those of us working to fight this disease. From Atlanta to Maputo, D.C. to Dakar, New York City to Phnom Penh, we’re looking around at the work being done to end malaria in our lifetimes and realizing that we’ve got a lot to celebrate. I have been lucky enough to spend the last several years watching as the fight against malaria changes, first in a small African village and now as a part of a major initiative to wipe out malaria, and so today is a day of happy memories and joyous expectation for me. Here’s why.
Before I came to the West African country of Senegal as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I didn’t know anything about malaria. During a brief but intense training period, experienced volunteers, Senegalese educators, and local community health workers showered us with the basic information about the disease: it’s characterized by high, cyclical fevers, horrible headaches, and vomiting. A child dies of malaria every minute. Malaria costs Africa $12 billion dollars every year. It’s particularly dangerous for pregnant women and children under the age of 5, which makes malaria seem almost consciously vicious.
And the real kicker? The crazy thing? The fact that fills me simultaneously with rage and hope? Malaria is entirely preventable and treatable. In fact, it was eradicated from the United States – completely wiped out – in 1951.
When I first started to understand these facts about malaria, I was filled with anger. It seemed like a tragedy. I couldn’t learn from the story, just mourn over it. But during the next two years of living and working in a tiny Senegalese village called Ndiago, I realized that we are living in a time of great hope and excitement. New technologies, growing awareness and intelligence, and a fresh zeal to eradicate malaria convince me that we’re about to see the disease’s hold on humanity ended, once and for all.
When I arrived in Ndiago, I started hearing about malaria’s impact on the community there. Everyone in the village of 300 reported having had a recent battle with malaria, or sibuuru, as it’s called in Wolof. But I quickly learned that when the community members said sibuuru, they really meant any malady characterized by headache, fever, and fatigue.
I was amazed. I knew that malaria was a big problem in this part of Senegal, but the people who were suffering from it didn’t have enough information about the disease to tell it apart from the aftermath of a long, hot day of working in the fields. No wonder getting rid of malaria seemed like such an imposing task: we were fighting blind.
In the beginning, I wasn’t much use myself. The first health talk I ever gave in village was about malaria, and it went horribly. Each family in Ndiago sent two women to hear me talk about the signs and symptoms of malaria and to watch me make neem lotion, a mosquito repellent made of cheap or naturally occurring ingredients that are easily available in rural Senegal.
It was a bust.
Having just been installed in the village about two weeks beforehand, I barely spoke enough of the local language, Wolof, to keep myself out of trouble, let alone talk about a complicated disease like malaria. I had made neem lotion before, during our brief but intense time in training, but never before a curious audience, and never by myself. As I poured in the shavings of a bar of soap, which melt in the neem leaf-infused boiling water, an exasperated lady in the front row of the crowd shuffled up to me. Grabbing the large spoon out of my hand and shooing me from the pot, she rolled up her flowing sleeves and started stirring powerfully. Apparently, I needed to be taught how to stir. Watching the soap dissolve, I wondered what exactly I was going to be doing in this village for the next two years. I couldn’t be trusted with the simplest of daily tasks, so it didn’t seem possible that I would be much of a community health educator.
Luckily, and to my eternal wonder and joy, humans get better at things as they go along. I spent two years learning Wolof, getting to know the 300 people who chose to share their village with me, and found out more and more about malaria and the role it plays in the lives of the Senegalese people.
Together, the community taught me what it was, what the members valued, what they wanted from their lives and from each other. They taught me how they saw malaria, what they thought of this threat to their lives, what they knew to do when they got sick. They helped me understand why they couldn’t pay the $4 to buy a mosquito net, even though they knew that sleeping underneath one every night would protect them from being bitten by the mosquitos that spread malaria. They talked about being too scared to go to the health post to seek treatment for a suspected case of malaria when their infant sons and daughters became ill, even though they knew the disease was so dangerous. They surprised me with their knowledge and resources, and saddened me with their matter-of-fact statements about their perceptions of the limitations on their lives.
Over the first two years of my time here, the people of the village turned every idea about public health I had on its head. Not only did I have to learn how to stir a pot of melting soap slivers, I had to start at the absolute beginning when it came to figuring out how health care and malaria prevention education should work. But it was exciting, because as I was learning more about malaria and how to fight it, so was my community. So was the world.
There is a health post in Ndiago, a small hospital with one nurse and a couple of trained community health workers. That’s where the people of Ndiago and the surrounding villages go when they’re seriously ill. But the hospital had no quick and easy way of testing for malaria, so anyone who came in with symptoms that looked like they could be caused by malaria were treated for it. It was an expensive system, but it was the best thing to be done. Better to catch every case of malaria and treat many people for a disease they didn’t have than to let even one patient die when a treatment was available.
The advent of Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs), which came to Ndiago about the time I was getting settled in there, changed everything. With a simple prick of a patient’s finger and a little drop of blood, the nurse could diagnose malaria immediately and start treatment with the appropriate drugs. Not only did the costs associated with malaria in the community begin to drop, but also people became better at recognizing malaria. They knew they could be tested for it, immediately receive treatment, and immediately start to feel better. Now that the people of Ndiago could put a label on their experience, the disease stopped being a mysterious and unpredictable force. These RDTs are becoming more and more widely available everywhere in Africa. For me, for the community of Ndiago, and for the people working to fight malaria all over the world, their presence means that the disease is starting to feel like a more manageable, weaker enemy.
Watching the people of Ndiago get better access to diagnosis and treatment was one thing, but we needed something more. Mosquito nets have long been an important part of malaria control programs across the world, but now we’ve got a super weapon of sorts: nets treated with a long-lasting insecticide. Not only do these nets provide a physical barrier between a sleeper and a mosquito, but they also take out any mosquitos that land and rest on them. Basically, they’re mosquito traps baited by sleeping children.
NGOs, the Senegalese National Malaria Control Program, and other major players all have been pushing these nets for some time now, but the programs of distribution were not coordinated or thorough. Sometimes, distribution campaigns were aimed at pregnant women and children under the age of 5, who are at the greatest risk of dying from malaria. So when these groups were given free nets, other naturally assumed that they were being skipped over because they weren’t at risk. Men and older children continued to get malaria regularly, and so the disease continued to thrive in communities across Senegal even though there were more nets on the ground and in use.
Realizing that there was a better way, a handful of Peace Corps Volunteers joined forces with the local health structure and pioneered what’s now become the standard practice for a distribution: universal coverage of mosquito nets, paired with a comprehensive system of anti-malaria education for the people receiving nets. The nets are designed to last up to five years, and the knowledge about malaria, its symptoms and how to prevent it, will last a lifetime. Instead of giving out nets to pregnant women alone, the new campaign trains health workers to take a census of every sleeping space in the village, whether it’s a bed or a mat on the ground. Those health workers are also charged with talking to families about the symptoms of malaria, what makes it different from other diseases, and how communities can protect themselves from it. Sibuuru is no longer a mystery disease that sneaks children away. We know malaria now, and we know how to fight it.
Today in Senegal, local and international partners have covered or are covering 12 of the 14 administrative regions in the country. Malaria rates are dropping everywhere, and the excitement is growing. An ambitious but realistic program in northern Senegal, where malaria rates are already very low, even aims to stop the transmission of the disease by the end of 2013 using SMS technology and rapid diagnosis and treatment protocols.
All of these amazing changes in the ways we fight malaria make me think of my own progress. I started out knowing very little, like the community of Ndiago. But the more I learned, the more the people of Ndiago learned, and the more the international community learned, the better we became at fighting malaria. This fight is an example of what I love about humanity: we try something, we learn, we improve, and we try again. We’re getting better at this every day, smarter and more committed. It’s an adventure, and it means that malaria is no match for us.
Keep an eye on the people of Ndiago, of Senegal, and of all the other communities that have been ravaged by malaria for so long. You’re going to be amazed by the next few years. Together, we’re going to end malaria. Celebrate with us today, on World Malaria Day, and tomorrow, maybe start thinking about what we should do next.
Mar 27th, 2012 10:53 AM UTC
By Wangui Muchiri
When ONE and ANSAF delivered a petition earlier this month on behalf of more 16,000 African citizens to Tanzania’s State House, our message was received with the urgency it deserved.
President Jakaya Kikwete had invited several African Ambassadors and the donor community to witness this event and it was clear to us from the word go that the president was indeed taking the issue of food insecurity in Africa very seriously. An event that was supposed to take about an hour, ended up with us being at Ikulu for more than three hours with President Kikwete having time for each and everyone present. He took time to mingle and speak not only with the Ambassadors present but also the small holder farmers personally.
These informal meetings and conversation saw President Kikwete ask the farmers to return the very next day, so that he could hear first hand what they would like to see his government do to boost agriculture in the rural areas.
This humble gesture left us rest assured that the petition could not have been in better hands. As if to confirm this notion, President Jakaya Kikwete went ahead and did two things:
For us this was a clear demonstration of an African leader taking responsibility and showing leadership on an issue that has the potential of transforming the whole continent.
Mar 8th, 2012 10:10 AM UTC
By ONE Partners
Here’s a post from our friends at the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI) in honor of International Women’s Day. KAVI is a collaborator of ONE’s partner the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).
The first person in Kenya to speak publicly about her participation in an HIV vaccine trial, in 2001, was a woman. She was a former classmate of mine and also a medical doctor. I was fascinated to learn that this exciting research was happening right at my doorstep. Not long after, I left my position in the emergency room of a local hospital to join the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
It’s becoming more widely known that African women bear the greatest burden of HIV/AIDS worldwide. According to UNAIDS, 59% of all people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women. What is less well known is the immense contribution African women have made and continue to make to HIV-prevention research. For instance, the first clues that an AIDS vaccine might be possible came from African women. These were a small subset of sex workers in Nairobi and the Gambia who had been repeatedly exposed to HIV but not infected; they were apparently able to resist the virus. The finding sparked a search—which continues to date—for a vaccine that can teach the body to protect itself against HIV.
I am motivated to work in this field because I am convinced that a safe and effective HIV vaccine, one that is made widely available to those who need it most, will be a game-changer for African women. The reality is that millions of women are simply unable to access or negotiate the use of any of the HIV prevention methods currently offered, which makes it critically important that we expand the range of options available.
Today it is International Women’s Day, which for me is a time to celebrate the contributions women have made to HIV-prevention research. Female researchers, volunteers, advocates and decision-makers around the world dedicate themselves to this cause. It is now more urgent than ever that we sustain support for efforts to develop new tools to prevent HIV infection, specifically ones that address the varied needs of women.
A safe and effective HIV vaccine, used in combination with other prevention strategies, is our best hope of ending the AIDS pandemic. But developing new HIV prevention tools takes resources, people, and time—in the laboratory, in safety tests, and in clinical trials. Sustained investments in HIV vaccine research are therefore critical; so is political support.
African women are playing a key role in the global endeavor to stop HIV/AIDS, and in the years to come will continue to be a central force in making an HIV vaccine a reality. Join us in this effort!
Dr. Gaudensia Nzembi Mutua is a research physician at the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI). She is based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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