World Malaria Day 2013: Winning entries in online photo contest bring importance of prevention into sharp relief

Article, 22.04.2013

Every single minute a child dies of malaria. Committed to combatting malaria, the SDC concentrates its efforts on disease prevention and access to health care. Within the space of five years (2007-2012), a SDC-funded mosquito net programme has helped to slash the child mortality rate in Tanzania by 44%. Furthermore, a photo contest shows how people can protect themselves from malaria and how mosquito nets have become a key weapon in the global fight against the disease.

Photo contest winners unveiled
In light of World Malaria Day on 25 April, the SDC-led Swiss Malaria Group chose the «Malaria Vaccines for the World» conference in Lausanne to announce the winners of its global online photo contest «The BIG Picture». Among the winning entries are several photos from India. One shows a cow sheltering under a mosquito net, while another captures a scene from a local festival where smoke is used to drive out the insects. Another photo shows a researcher observing mosquitoes as they bite into his arm.

Photo gallery

The aim of the contest is to give the general public an idea of what it means for people who have to live day in, day out with the threat of malaria, of how they can protect themselves from the disease, and of what is being done to help them. Over 700 photos were submitted from around the world, and some of the entries have been published on www.malariaphotos.org. The Swiss Malaria Group is made up of 17 organisations based in Switzerland, working to develop and deliver new tools to tackle malaria.

SDC’s global commitment to combatting malaria
Despite significant advances in the control of malaria, the disease still represents a major burden for many countries. Every single minute a child dies of malaria, and every year 610,000 to 971,000 people worldwide die of this disease. When combating the health and economic effects of malaria in its partner countries, SDC stresses not only prevention but also access to medicines.

SDC mosquito net project saves lives in Tanzania
One way in which SDC shows its commitment is by supporting malaria prevention and control projects. Since 2002 it has funded, through the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, a coordination office which is responsible for implementing the Tanzanian government’s mosquito net programme. Local production, subsidies and the distribution of the nets were organised in collaboration with a number of different partners. In what is probably the largest ever mosquito net campaign of its kind in the world, the NetCall project has distributed a total of 28 million nets. The SDC has invested CHF 7.1 million in the project to date.

According to the results of the National HIV/AIDS and Malaria Indicator Survey 2011-2012, which was conducted and published by the Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics, the SDC mosquito net project helped to slash the mortality rate among the under-fives in Tanzania by 44% between 2007 and 2012. While only 23% of households owned an insecticide-treated mosquito net in 2004, this figure had risen to 94% by 2012, with 56% of these households owning enough nets to protect their entire family.

The SDC will pursue its commitment to combatting malaria in Tanzania by earmarking an additional CHF 6.3 million in funding from now until 2018. Together with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, it will also step up its cooperation with the Tanzanian government. Its efforts will focus on scaling-up the treatment of malaria, as well as maintaining mosquito net coverage in Tanzania by launching a distribution campaign targeted specifically at schools.

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