One of the largest Christian relief and development organizations in the world is taking a leading role in initiatives aimed at combating malaria in Southern Sudan. Although efforts to combat the disease have been lacking over the years, mostly due to the country's 21-year conflict, humanitarian agencies are now increasing their focus on softening the stranglehold malaria has on the region.
Most recently, World Vision International reported that it is one of eight NGOs working in collaboration with UN agencies in implementing a $2.5 million malaria prevention and mitigation program funded by the Global Fund for TB, Malaria and HIV/AIDS. The program, managed in Sudan by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), aims to improve the early diagnosis and treatment of the disease, and increase the capacity of the community to respond by training locally-based community health workers, mother and child health workers and medical assistants on how to diagnose malaria early and provide effective treatment.
According to World Vision, one of the key aims of the program is to create greater awareness of the disease. Many people are unaware of the difference between malaria and other illnesses, the agency reported. Nor do many people know of the importance of insecticide-treated nets.
Because malaria can cause anaemia in pregnant mothers and children less than five years of age, World Vision is particularly focusing on these groups.
We will offer intermittent preventive malaria treatment to pregnant women, early diagnosis and treatment to children under five years, said Molly Mwangi, World Vision Southern Sudan's health and nutrition coordinator. We are also very keen on educating the masses on the use of long lasting insecticide-treated nets and working towards increasing their accessibility and acceptability.
So far, World Vision reports that malaria mitigation projects have been launched in a number of its program areas, including Tonj South, Tonj North and Gogrial East, all in Bahr el Ghazal region, and Shilluk Kingdom Zone 1, in the Upper Nile region. Another project has been initiated in Tambura County, Western Equatoria region, which is World Vision's first intervention in the area.