Last year, malaria claimed the lives of almost 750,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa, 85 percent of them young children. Some of the region’s poorest residents live in Yirimadjo, Mali, and are receiving protection from the disease through a Rotary Foundation Global Grant project supported by Rotarians in four countries. (click belwo to read more)
Called Bite Malaria Back, the project is providing insecticide-treated bed nets, physician services, and medications to help prevent and treat malaria. It is led by the Rotary Club of Bamako-Amitié, Mali, along with the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.) and five others in District 7620 (District of Columbia; part of Maryland, USA).
Club members are working with Project Muso Ladamunen, a nongovernmental organization whose goal is to end the cycle of poverty and disease in Yirimadjo. The Bamako-Amitié club is helping to coordinate Rotarians’ role in the effort.
During its first three months (February-April), Bite Malaria Back made possible more than 3,000 patient visits at the Yirimadjo Health Center. It also facilitated more than 12,700 visits by community health workers to residents’ homes, resulting in the treatment of almost 900 children with malaria -- over 80 percent within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, when medical intervention is critical.
The effort supports the disease prevention and treatment area of focus under the Foundation’s Future Vision Plan. It is funded by a $26,666 global grant and more than $33,000 in sponsor contributions from Future Vision pilot districts 3140 (part of Maharashtra, India), 7620, and 9100 (parts of West Africa). The Rotary Club of Kowloon Golden Mile, Hong Kong, a nonpilot club, has also contributed funds to the project.
Rotarians in Mali are monitoring malaria-related consultations and services that patients receive from physicians. “We have also gone to see how the field workers go house to house to visit patients and make the project felt by the community,” says Sunny Akuopha, until recently a member of the Bamako-Amitié club, now of the Rotary Club of Bamako Ouest. “The project has had tremendous impact by reducing the mortality rate and mortality-prone situations.”
In June, Bite Malaria Back completed a survey of every household in Yirimadjo, which has more than 56,700 residents, and determined that over 22,300 bed nets are needed. The Against Malaria Foundation has committed to support the project, which will enable 21,500 bed nets to be distributed in July.
“By leveraging Rotary’s bold commitment to mobilize additional partners, Rotary’s impact will be multiplied manyfold,” says Ari Johnson, co-executive director and founder of Project Muso Ladamunen. He adds that the Mali Ministry of Health is being asked to provide the remaining bed nets needed to reach every resident in the community.
The Capitol Hill club used social networking to raise funds for the project through Crowdrise. It is also using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to keep Rotarians up-to-date about the initiative’s progress and to coordinate media coverage.
“It is not acceptable for nearly one million children to die each year of a disease like malaria, which can be cured with a few dollars’ worth of effective medications, efficiently delivered to the thousands of children who need them,” says Capitol Hill club member Maria Nelly Pavisich.“We are seeing incredible changes happening in the communities we serve,” says Johnson, reflecting on Rotary’s role. “I am at a loss for words to express our gratitude for your efforts in heroically championing the Bite Malaria Back vision.”