Malaria is a serious disease caused by a parasite. It is transmitted from one person to another by the bite of an infected mosquito. When a mosquito bites an infected person, it picks up a small amount of blood, which contains the parasite. The parasite, mixed with the mosquito’s saliva, is injected into the next person the mosquito bites, and this person becomes sick as well. Malaria symptoms include fever, chills, body pain, vertigo, loss of appetite and sleepiness. When left untreated, malaria can result in kidney failure, seizures, and even death because the parasite destroys red blood cells. Malaria is a serious problem in Cameroon, especially for children below the age of five.
In 2015, AIDSfreeAFRICA spearheaded a malaria-free zone (MFZ) program in Yaounde, Cameroon (for more information visit http://aidsfreeafrica.org/our-programs/malaria-free-zone-mosquito-nets/). The goal of the program is to reduce the malaria infection rate while educating the residents on how malaria can be transmitted and/or prevented. As a part of the MFZ program, bed nets are permanently affixed to windows to make the entire structure a malaria-free environment.
In this post, Hilbert Kamo, a Cameroon native employed by AIDSfreeAFRICA, helped to answer important questions regarding the malaria free zone program.
Are most people willing to get the nets put on their windows?
“At the start, it was not easy, but now the number of people willing to get mosquito nets fixed is increasing.”
What materials are needed for installing netting to a window?
To install netting on a window, the following items are needed: nails, hammer, a net, gloves, detergent/soap, a bucket and sometimes wood. Many items are donated or purchased by AIDSfreeAFRICA, but old bed nets are often collected from trash sites.
Collection and washing of old mosquito nets
How do you decide which homes to put the netting?
Individuals who bring their bed nets to AIDSfreeAFRICA become a priority for having netting installed on their homes. Sometimes people offer to help to install the netting, moving them to the top of the list.
Homeowners may also come forward and request to have nettings put on their homes. If they offer to pay a small amount of money for the service we make an appointment immediately. Some people understand that participating in the program will save them money on hospital bills since they avoid getting malaria. We also work with local community institution such as schools, health centers and places of worship.
How long does it take to install the netting on the windows for one home?
It takes anywhere from four to ten hours to install netting on the windows of a home. The time varies depending on the number of windows that need to be netted and whether or not volunteers, who often live there, help with the installation. Fortunately, two locals recently applied to volunteer with the malaria-free zone program.
Windows with affixed mosquito netting
To contact us directly, please visit the AIDSfreeAFRICA website (http://aidsfreeafrica.org/our-story/contact/) and send us a message letting us know how you would like to partner with our organization to help Cameroon!