December 9, 2020
The latest edition of Protecting Global Gains profiles an effort in Benin that may stave off a feared spike in malaria due to disrupted healthcare support during COVID-19.
The recently released WHO World Malaria Report 2020 highlights what is at stake if COVID-19 derails malaria prevention and treatment efforts—models estimate malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa could nearly double in 2020. A Better Way to Distribute Bed Nets explores how health officials in Benin are adapting and deploying new technologies to bring mosquito-blocking bed nets exactly where they are needed, despite the pandemic. These innovations will reap public-health benefits well beyond COVID-19.
Bed nets are to malaria what masks are to COVID-19: simple tools that can be extremely effective, but only if people have access to them and use them properly—a particular challenge in the midst of pandemic restrictions. To address this, health officials with Benin’s National Malaria Control Program, in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), are using geotagged data to deliver bed nets door-to-door. By combining digital technology with community-based health practice, the Ministry of Health has distributed more than 7 million bed nets to 3 million households—in the middle of a COVID-19 lockdown.
While this approach was adopted out of necessity, it also removes barriers for households who may not have had the ability to travel to a distribution site, and points the way to community-based delivery of a whole range of basic health services, including HIV medications and family planning supplies.
Follow the Protecting Global Gains series on social media at @hivpxresearch, @theglobalfight, @Amref_Worldwide and #ProtectingGlobalGains, and consider amplifying these stories on your own social media. Advocates can call for national and international action to reinvigorate the fight against malaria and support critical work to distribute mosquito nets. Visit www.protectingglobalgains.org to learn more about how to take action.