DAKAR, June 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Millions of
insecticide-treated bed nets are being delivered to protect
people from malaria in the West African nations of Guinea-Bissau
and Sierra Leone, where the mosquito-borne disease is one of the
biggest killers, aid agencies said on Thursday.
The countries' health ministries are working with United
Nations agencies and local partners in a drive to ensure every
household receives at least one bed net in the coming weeks.
"This is not just a distribution drive but also a mass
information campaign," said John James, representative for the
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Sierra Leone.
"Teams will be going door-to-door, and using social media
and radio to raise awareness ... the goal is to reach every last
house," James told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
More than a quarter of people in Sierra Leone - at least two
million - suffer from the disease, which accounts for a fifth of
the country's child deaths and four in 10 of its hospital
admissions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Yet the number of new malaria cases in the country dropped
by almost a third between 2010 and 2015, the biggest reduction
of the disease in West Africa, Abu Bakarr Fofanah, Sierra
Leone's minister of health and sanitation, said in a statement.
Malaria is the leading causing of death in Guinea Bissau -
accounting for almost a sixth of all deaths, the U.N. says.
"Mosquito nets are the most effective barrier against
malaria and can make the difference between life and death,"
said Aygan Kossi, the WHO representative in Guinea Bissau.
The world has made huge strides against malaria since 2000,
with death rates plunging by 60 percent and at least six million
lives saved globally, according to the WHO.
However efforts to end one of the world's deadliest diseases
- which kills around 430,000 people a year - are under threat as
mosquitoes become increasingly resistant to measures such as
insecticide-treated bed nets and anti-malarial drugs.
Ghana, Kenya and Malawi will pilot the world's first malaria
vaccine from 2018, offering it for babies and children in
high-risk areas as part of real-life trials, the WHO said in
(Writing By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith;
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