Canadian Red Cross protects children in Sierra Leone from malaria

Staff Writers | 17 Nov 2006
Canadian Red Cross

Canadian Red Cross is launching its sixth and largest Preventing Malaria in Africa campaign, protecting all children in Sierra Leone under five years of age from this deadly disease.

Between November 20 and 26, with support from the Canadian Red Cross, over 4,000 volunteers from the Sierra Leone Red Cross will distribute 875,000 long-lasting insecticide-treated bed-nets, which will provide protection for up to four years.

Although preventable and treatable, malaria is the leading killer of African children under five - one child dies every 30 seconds. Life-saving bed-nets are a proven and cost-effective way to prevent malaria.

"This malaria prevention campaign will make a huge difference in the lives of families in Sierra Leone. When a mother puts her child to bed after a long day often filled with struggle, she wants to know her child will be safe. Now, when children in Sierra Leone sleep under a bed-net, they are going to be better protected from malaria," said Jane McGowan, president of Canadian Red Cross, who is visiting Sierra Leone from November 19 to 22.

Since 2003, with the generous support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Canadian Red Cross Preventing Malaria in Africa campaigns have distributed over 1.7 million bed-nets to Africa, potentially saving the lives of over 69,000 vulnerable children.

"Bed-nets are a cost-effective strategy in fighting death and disease due to malaria, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 90 per cent of deaths worldwide," said the Honourable Josée Verner, Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages. "Canada is proud to partner with the Canadian Red Cross to help the most vulnerable people access life-saving bed-nets."

With funding from CIDA, Canadian Red Cross has partnered with various organizations to offer a four-step integrated child-survival program, consisting of vaccinating children against measles, providing Vitamin A supplements, deworming treatments, and providing bed-nets.

This initiative is a collaborative effort with CIDA, Sierra Leone Red Cross, Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Swedish Red Cross, WHO, UNICEF, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Canadians wishing to make a financial donation may donate immediately online, call 1-800-418-1111 or contact their local Canadian Red Cross office. The 24-hour toll free line accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked "Malaria Bed-Net Campaign" and mailed to Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2. Donations of goods are not accepted.

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