This week Rotarian Debbie Skinner presentation was on Rotarians against Malaria. Rotary Alexandra has always supported overseas causes through our contribution to the Rotary Foundation. Since the foundation was founded more than 100 years ago, the Foundation has spent more than $4 billion on life-changing, sustainable projects. These include Peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy and economic and community development.
Debbie’s talk concentrated on how Rotary was combating malaria in Papua New Guinea , Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
Malaria is not only a significant cause of death in the poorer nations of the world but it is also a significant direct cause of poverty. Chronic malaria leaves sufferers listless, house bound and unable to contribute to productive work to sustain their families and contribute to their communities. In the case of children it interrupts their education and leads to poor concentration even when they are able to attend school. Working to control and eliminate malaria is a good fit with Rotary’s ideals and areas of focus.
In Papua New Guinea, RAM funded and distributed 250,000 nets prior to the arrival of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and since then has been involved in the distribution of a further 7 million nets as a designated agent for the Global Fund in PNG since 2009. There has been an overall 45% reduction in the incidence of malaria since 2009 and >70% reduction in some provinces.
In the Solomon Islands, RAM provided 180,000 nets before the Global Fund, Australian Government and Solomon Islands Ministry of Health took over operations. In 2002, RAM constructed (or rebuilt) 18 houses and 11 storage sheds for the malaria program in the seven provinces of the Solomon Islands with the assistance of RAWCS volunteers; five of these houses were fully-funded by Rotarians with AusAID providing material costs for the remaining buildings. RAM has since developed the Healthy Villages program to complement net distribution. The Healthy Villages program involves the supply of tools to villages with Ministry of Health-approved programs to conduct activities to limit areas for mosquito breeding. There has been a 75% overall reduction in malaria incidence since RAM’s involvement with the Solomon Islands and two provinces are at the pre-elimination stage.
RAM became involved with Timor Leste in 2006 when the incidence was 220 cases per 1000 people. RAM has provided 75,000 nets to assist the National Malaria Control Program and compliment the work of the Global Fund and the World Health Organisation. The incidence of malaria has been reduced to less than 1 in 1000 since RAMs involvement with Timor Leste and 5 of the 13 health districts are at the pre-elimination stage.
An extremely interesting thought provoking talk by Debbie revealing that something can be done to eradicate malaria.
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