BANGUI, Central African Republic, 27 August 2014 – Amid heavy rains and violence UNICEF and partners have distributed more than half a million mosquito bed nets reaching every home in Bangui to protect families from malaria - the leading killer of children under 5 in Central African Republic.
With the current heavy rains the risk of malaria significantly increases. To ensure children are protected UNICEF and the National Red Cross with support from the Ministry of Health mobilized more than 7,000 volunteers who went door-to-door distributing more than 530,000 mosquito nets in a single month.
“Rains are pouring down every day here", says UNICEF CAR Representative Souleymane Diabaté. “Courageous volunteers have been working every day in a volatile environment to provide families the protection they need from this deadly disease.”
Every year nearly 460,000 people in Central African Republic suffer from malaria, and there has been an increase in the number of malaria deaths since 2010. In the north-west of the country, malaria accounted for 70 percent of all child deaths from May to July last year. When used correctly, bed nets can reduce malaria by half and can reduce all causes of child mortality on average by 20 percent.
“I know so many families who do not have enough money for one warm meal a day. They could never afford to buy a mosquito net, so this is saving lives,” said Valérie Mbondo, a volunteer with the National Red Cross.
Later this year, mosquito nets will be distributed to families in the rest of the country by the International Federation of the Red Cross.
UNICEF continues to respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in CAR, where nearly 2.3 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
So far UNICEF CAR has received half of the funds needed for health programs. UNICEF is appealing for an additional US $10.3 million to protect children in CAR from easily preventable but deadly diseases like malaria.
Note to editors The Government of Japan, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund funded the purchase of mosquito bed nets and the distribution campaign.
With now more than 150 staff on the ground, UNICEF has considerably and rapidly scaled up its humanitarian presence and operations in CAR in response to the growing magnitude and severity of the crisis. UNICEF has added staff in established field offices in Bossangoa, Bambari, Bouar and Kaga Bandoro and is coordinating outreach strategies in the west and centre of the country.
About UNICEF UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in more than 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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For more information, please contact: Linda Tom, UNICEF Central African Republic Mobile: +237 90077953 firstname.lastname@example.org Madeleine Logan, UNICEF Bangui, Mobile: +236 70738570; email@example.com Melanie Sharpe, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 212 326 7448, Mobile: +1 917 209 1804 firstname.lastname@example.org