Canadian Red Cross encourages holiday giving as bed nets are distributed in Togo and Nigeria

Report
from Canadian Red Cross
Published on 10 Dec 2008 View Original
(Dec. 10, 2008 - OTTAWA) The Canadian Red Cross is encouraging Canadians to give the gift of life-saving bed nets this holiday season as it launches two major net distributions to help prevent malaria in Africa. Over the next week, the Canadian Red Cross is supporting the distribution of 1.4 million bed nets in Togo and Nigeria.

Throughout the week of December 9th, the Ministries of Health in Togo and Nigeria, with the support of the Canadian Red Cross and international partners, will distribute 1.4 million long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets to families with children under five years old. The distributions will be coupled with measles and/or polio vaccinations, vitamin A supplements and deworming tablets. This is the first net distribution campaign for the Canadian Red Cross in Nigeria, and the second distribution in Togo; the first having been in 2004.

Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes at night. It is the number one killer of children in Africa, claiming 3,000 young lives every single day. A child can die in as little as 24 hours after the first symptoms appear.

But malaria can be prevented. Sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net is one of the best ways to prevent this deadly disease.

As one of the world's largest donors to the distribution of nets to children in Africa, the Government of Canada has committed $44.7 million to the Canadian Red Cross to support its work to prevent malaria. These funds, in addition to the generous donations of Canadians and matching funds from the Pindoff Foundation, have allowed the Canadian Red Cross, with local Ministries of Health and local Red Cross Societies, to distribute over 6.2 million nets in Zambia, Niger, Mozambique, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Mali and Togo and now Nigeria. It is conservatively estimated that these nets will save approximately 119,000 lives.

"It's the hard work of local Red Cross volunteers in our African partner societies that makes the real difference in the effort to prevent malaria in their communities," says Conrad Sauvé, Canadian Red Cross Secretary General. "Trained Red Cross volunteers help with the distribution of nets and, in the week following the distributions, visit the homes of families who have received nets to ensure that they are being used and are hung up correctly. They also help educate families about the care and importance of their nets."

"These important net distributions would not have been possible without the ongoing support of the Canadian government and individual donors. However, there is still much work to be done to reduce the burden of malaria and we hope that Canadians will agree that bed nets make wonderful gifts as we approach the holidays."

Each $7 donation to the Canadian Red Cross covers the cost of one mosquito net, its distribution, and follow-up visits to families in Africa. Canadians wishing to support these activities are encouraged to donate online at www.mlariabites.net or https://www.paypaq.com/redcross/en/malariabites/index.php, call toll-free at 1-800-418-1111 or by contacting their local Canadian Red Cross office. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked "Malaria Bites Campaign" and mailed to the Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300; Ottawa, Ontario; K2P 2P2.

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 186 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Our mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Canadian Red Cross media line: (613) 740-1944