Canadian Red Cross distributes 875,000 bed-nets to prevent malaria in Sierra Leone
(Freetown, Sierra Leone, November 27, 2006) — The Canadian Red Cross and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Societies have successfully completed the distribution of 875,000 long-lasting insecticide-treated bed-nets to all families with children under five years of age. These bed-nets are expected in the first year alone to save the lives of up to 5,000 children in Sierra Leone.
“Many babies die here and mine are very small. I wanted a mosquito net for protection from malaria so that my babies can live and grow to be healthy,” says Aminasa Bah, a mother of baby twin girls from Freetown who received a bed-net from the Canadian Red Cross.
Although preventable and treatable, malaria is the leading killer of African children under five – one child dies every 30 seconds. Life-saving bed-nets are a proven and cost-effective way to prevent malaria.
“The desire of parents to want what’s best for their kids is universal. The mothers and fathers that I met in Sierra Leone knew these bed-nets offered immediate protection for their children from malaria. It was very important for families to receive a net to help ensure a strong future for their little boys and girls” says Canadian Red Cross President Jane McGowan, who recently returned to Canada from the West African country.
Between November 20 and 26, with support from the Canadian Red Cross, over 4,000 volunteers from the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society distributed free bed-nets at over 900 distribution points throughout the country. Sierra Leone Red Cross volunteers will also be going door-to-door visiting families to assure bed-nets are properly hung over children’s beds and to answer any questions about the nets.
”I feel very proud to be a part of this survival strategy. My country depends on these young lives for a strong future. We must protect our children from preventable deaths,” says Raymond Alpha, a program officer with the Sierra Leone Red Cross.
Since 2003, with the generous support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Canadian Red Cross Preventing Malaria in Africa campaigns have now distributed over 2.6 million bed-nets to Africa, potentially saving the lives of over 69,000 vulnerable children.
"Canada is a strong supporter of regional and multilateral initiatives to advance global malaria prevention and control efforts," says Josée Verner, Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages. Canadians can be proud of the results achieved by the Canadian Red Cross during its latest campaign in Sierra Leone, and rest assured that Canada continues to be committed to fighting malaria and other deadly diseases."
Over the next three years, Canadian Red Cross will also be supporting “Keep Up” activities with recipient families, along with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Sierra Leone Red Cross volunteers will visit families regularly to educate and inform them about the importance and availability of regular vaccinations for their children, post-natal clinics, and ways to protect their children from cholera and dysentery.
Families in Sierra Leone received a bed-net as part of the National Measles and Malaria campaign, which also included measles vaccinations, Vitamin A supplements, and deworming treatments. This initiative is a collaborative effort with CIDA, Sierra Leone Red Cross, Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Swedish Red Cross, World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Canadians wishing to support these activities are encouraged to make a financial donation by donating online at www.redcross.ca, calling 1-800-418-1111 or contacting their local Canadian Red Cross office. The 24-hour toll free line accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked “Malaria Bed-Net Campaign” and mailed to Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2. Donations of goods are not accepted.
The Canadian Red Cross is a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and 185 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Canadian Red Cross mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.
For more information, to access to high quality footage and photos, or to arrange an interview with a Canadian Red Cross representative in Sierra Leone or Canada, please call the media line at: (613) 740-1994.