“We are at a critical moment in Africa, where we can either capitalize on the successes of the past years or slide backwards,” H.E. President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania
Early this month at the UN General Assembly, a group of world leaders launched an integrated approach to fight malaria to meet the MDGs and contribute to the next set of development goals after 2015. President Kikwete’s remarks point to the great strides that have been made with regards to malaria— malarial deaths have fallen by 25% since 2000—while recognizing that disease still claims 660,000 lives per year and poses a major challenge to development.
Nothing But Nets, has been tackling this challenge since 2006- raising more than $45 million dollars and delivering more than 7 million insecticide-treated bed nets to protect families in Sub-Saharan Africa from malaria. As October’s Maternal Health Task Force’s Quarterly Newsletter details, pregnant women are more vulnerable to malarial infection than other populations, and are more susceptible to severe illness, anemia and death as a result. In addition, malaria during pregnancy increases neonatal and infant mortality and morbidity—it is estimated that up to 200,000 newborn deaths occur each year as a result of malaria in pregnancy.
Malaria has the greatest burden among poor women and children, but mobile has been identified as a promising health intervention, which supports and compliments efforts by increasing women’s demand for and use of life-saving commodities such as insecticide-treated bed nets, as well as encourages them to seek antenatal care where they receive preventive treatment for malaria. To address this challenge, malaria information and content has been incorporated into the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action’s (MAMA) mobile message, to encourage new mothers to protect their babies and young children from malaria by using bed nets and other simple methods. MAMA supports the critical work of the Nothing But Nets campaign, and emphasizes that bed nets are cheap and effective, and delivers this concise message to mothers: “if you want to do one good thing for your baby this week, make sure you use an insecticide-treated net to sleep under.”
The integrated framework launched at UNGA, calls for greater coordinated action among different development sectors to fight malaria. MAMA is proud to work in tandem with our campaign, and continues to provide women with access to life-saving malaria information while we work with our implementing partners to deliver nets into the hands of women and over the beds of children who need them most.