Defeating Malaria One Mosquito Net At A Time
ASMARA, Eritrea — One of the planets smallest, poorest countries is defeating malaria one mosquito net at a time.
In the last decade, by providing insecticide treated mosquito nets to its people, and more importantly, making sure that every net is retreated every three months, Eritrea, in the impoverished, war torn Horn of Africa, has reduced malaria mortality by an astonishing 85 percent. Combined with mobilizing the communities to eradicate mosquito breeding areas, along with community-based medical clinics and an aggressive program to promote immediate medical treatment when malaria symptoms appear, the battle against malaria is finally being won.
One may forgiven for wondering why this hasn’t made headlines in the world’s media. Shouldn’t this little, resource poor country, which has experienced such unparalleled disasters, both natural and manmade during the same time period, be held up as a role model not only for Africa but for the rest of the world?
Hundreds of millions of dollars, billions even, have been and continue to be spent by the likes of the World Heath Organization trying to defeat malaria. Yet today malaria is harder to treat with drugs than at any time in the past half a century if we are to believe the experts at the WHO.
So why isn’t the one role model for fighting malaria being emulated around the world? Maybe, just maybe, no drug company, one of the most profitable industries on the planet, is going to make billions off of this latest victory.
One must also take into account that tiny Eritrea has consistently been a troublemaker for the Western powers and their local policemen, and the last thing the West wants is to promote a role model for independence and self-sufficiency.
So remember, when the next special on how malaria is killing Africa’s children runs on BBC or CNN or wherever, the real success story in the battle against malaria is being won one mosquito net at a time, and by a small, poor, newly independent country in the Horn of Africa, the one part of the world where nothing good is ever supposed to happen.
By Thomas C. Mountain
Thomas C. Mountain is the only independent western journalist in the Horn of Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006.