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22,000 new children a day protected from malaria by Red Cross/Red Crescent societies and their partners in 2006

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Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies and their partners protected some 22,000 new children per day from malaria in Africa in 2006. This results from the distribution of 8.3 million long lasting insecticidal nets to mothers of children under the age of five, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Africa Malaria Day which will be marked on April 25.

"Despite this spectacular achievement, malaria is still one of the most devastating global public health problems with more than one million deaths every year. Some 3,000 children die of malaria every day" says Jean Roy, Senior Adviser at the International Federation Health and Care department in Geneva. More than 80 per cent of cases occur in Africa, south of the Sahara.

In 2006, Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies distributed 2.2 million nets in Niger, 875,000 in Sierra Leone and also supported large distribution campaigns in Kenya (3.4 million nets distributed) Angola and Rwanda. Approximately another 7 million children under the age of five are expected to receive nets in 2007.

"However, we believe the efforts by international donors to increase by ten times the number of nets distributed in sub-Saharan Africa since 2002 will not be effective if people who receive nets don't know how to use them," explains Jean Roy. "That is why Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies organize Hang Up campaigns immediately after the distribution and "Keep Up" programmes for the three years thereafter. Volunteers play an important post-campaign role when visiting households with pregnant women and young children to make sure the nets are properly used and children do sleep under them," he adds.

Keep Up programmes started in Togo in 2005. They were extended later to Mozambique and Kenya. Similar plans are being developed in Ghana, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Besides the massive distribution of nets and the mobilization of volunteers to make sure the nets are used, the International Federation is also involved in rapid response to emergency situations in Africa, for instance by making nets available during the recent floods that affected eastern and southern Africa to prevent an increase in malaria cases. It is also working with governments to ensure that appropriate malaria treatment is available. Access to nets for people living with HIV is also a priority, as they are among those at higher risk for developing malaria, just like young children and pregnant women.

The International Federation is working with more than 25 partners representing international agencies, institutions and non-governmental organizations.

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

Jean-Luc Martinage, Media Officer, Tel: + 41 22 730 42 96 / + 41 79 217 33 86
Media Service Duty phone Tel: + 41 79 416 38 81

The Geneva-based International Federation promotes the humanitarian activities of 185 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies among vulnerable people. By coordinating international disaster relief and encouraging development support, it seeks to prevent and alleviate human suffering. The Federation, National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together, constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.