Mosquito net projects help prevent malaria
Emily Grose, daughter of Canadian Rotarian Ed Grose, befriended other children while accompanying her parents on a Rotary-related trip to Uganda in 2004. The trip inspired a Matching Grant project that Grose is coordinating for his club. Photo courtesy of Ed Grose
One of the most sobering facts about malaria is that it can be prevented simply by sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net.
These nets can last five years and cost about US$10 -- expensive to families who survive on less than $1 a day but, thanks to Rotarian efforts, now accessible to many of them.
The Rotary Club of Kråkerøy, Norway, teamed up with the Rotary Club of Machakos, Kenya, in 2004 on a $16,000 Matching Grant project to distribute 3,000 mosquito nets to children under five and pregnant women in a slum of Machakos and nearby rural villages.
It was such a success that the clubs are collaborating on a second Matching Grant project to hand out 5,000 nets during 2008, with plans for a third effort in the works.
Malaria prevention often fits in with larger community development ventures. The Rotary Club of Red Deer Sunrise, Alberta, Canada, for instance, is partnering with the Rotary Club of Iganga, Uganda, on a $33,000 Matching Grant project that's providing rainwater harvesting tanks, livestock, agricultural education, and 1,400 insecticide-treated mosquito nets — enough for everyone in Uganda’s Buntaba village.
"Malaria is almost like the common cold [to people in Buntaba]," says Ed Grose, of the Red Deer Sunrise club. "And because it’s so commonplace, it becomes almost acceptable."
Another effort to address multiple needs was initiated by the Rotary Club of Raymond, Alberta, Canada. Past club president Steven Leavitt and his wife, Pat, traveled to a Bushenyi District village near Kampala, Uganda, in 2007 on a $6,000 Volunteer Service Grant to distribute mosquito nets and offer agricultural assistance.
Their hosts from the Rotary Club of Mengo recruited a local doctor to help distribute 150 pretreated mosquito nets to the 32-family village. Every household reported outbreaks of malaria at least once a month, Pat recalls, and only a few villagers had even seen a mosquito net before. She was thrilled when, six months later, the doctor e-mailed to report that he had found no new cases of malaria on a recent visit.
"It’s just incredible to realize that kind of impact," Pat says.
This article appeared in the October issue of Rotary World.