Weekly Awesome Madagascar: Historical LLIN Distribution Scheduled for 2015

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Photo Credit: Liz Toomey. A group of community members from the commune of Lopary receive bed nets during a continuous distribution in February.

Written by: Liz Toomey, Malaria Coordinator

The largest LLIN distribution in the history of Madagascar is scheduled to take place this September-November.  There will be over 11 million nets distributed in 92 out of the 112 districts in Madagascar by PMI/Global Fund.  With an estimated population of 23 million citizens of Madagascar, this means there will be approximately one net for every 2 people!  This is a huge victory for a country whose entire population is at risk of Malaria, and whose last mass distribution was in 2013.

Some Peace Corps Volunteers here in Madagascar are already working with community health workers in their communities to make sure the census is completed and no one is left off the tally. The problem with conducting a census in a country with extremely poor infrastructure is that remote, rural villages are often forgotten during the census and distribution.  Our goal this year is to get as many PCVs as possible to participate in at least one aspect of the distribution (pre, per, post); and to make sure that no one is left unprotected.

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Photo credit: Mamina Herizo. Regional Malaria Coordinators  pose for a photo outside of the Peace Corps Office during RMC Training.

Last month during a Regional Malaria Coordinator Training facilitated by the Malaria Coordinator there was a strong emphasis on PCV participation and collaboration with partners during the upcoming distribution. Representatives from Population Services International (PSI), DLP (National Malaria Control Program), USAID/PMI, and the local NGO, Mahefa, all described their role in the distribution, in what capacity PCVs can work with them, and how PCVs in their respective villages can best get involved in the campaign.

According to PMI partners here in Madagascar, the most critical role for Peace Corps Volunteers will be during the post campaign follow-up.  PSI, USAID, and DLP have scheduled bed net usage surveys for the month following the distribution; but none further down the road.  Peace Corps Madagascar is dedicated to ensuring the “community effect” takes over after the distribution, and is currently formulating a simple yet comprehensive bed net usage survey which will be conducted intermittently up to one year following the distribution.

With such a massive amount of LLINs to be distributed, we are preparing for some inevitable problems.  NGOs present in coastal regions of Madagascar are working hard to get their messages heard about proper bed net usage, and the negative environmental and human health impacts of using bed nets for fishing.  Only time will tell which messages stick, and which are heard through all the hype of the distribution itself.  All we know is, this distribution is a huge step in the direction towards eliminating Malaria on this amazing island; and we hope it’s not the last.