Note: This post was authored by a representative for UNICEF in Cameroon, Ora Musu Clemens-Hope.
On August 20, Dr. Esther Tallah, the head of the Cameroon Coalition Against Malaria, and I set out for Mfou, 25 kilometers outside of Yaounde, to be part of the country’s largest ever bed net distribution to deliver almost 9 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, many of which Nothing But Nets supporters helped send.
During the census phase, volunteers make up teams, who help count households throughout the country and give out vouchers for the number of nets the household will need. This process helps make sure each family gets the nets they need to protect themselves from malaria.
Under a small gazebo-like structure, we find three teenage girls – part of a household with two families, who had been a part of the census. The families have two vouchers: #157 and #158 of the Mfou health district. On September 11, they will receive their bed nets!
Hoping to catch up with one of the teams responsible for counting households, we set out with the nursing supervisor in the district. After driving for a while, we locate Mballa Thomas Daquin and Mani Bernadette Sylvie, who make up one of the teams. Thomas and Bernadette are from the local Red Cross, which is a key part of the strategy to involve communities in fighting malaria.
Walking with Thomas to the first house in the area, we find his teammate Bernadette with the register. She carefully writes down the names of the household members given by Marie-Aimee, mother of four children. Her children glance shyly at us, breaking into smiles when I ask if they will sleep under their nets. The children have all had malaria, so Marie Aimee is looking forward to picking up three nets from the district hospital on September 12 so her family of six can stay protected.
The census team has registered 150 households so far. Teams like this one are working hard throughout the country to help every family get the nets they need. Stay tuned. I’ll be going out in September to observe the distribution. This is the first time Cameroon is conducting a universal net distribution and it is a huge challenge with a huge potential to reduce the number of people who get malaria. This important distribution was made possible thanks to all of the partners and supporters, like you, who are helping us to reach the goal of universal coverage of nets in Cameroon. Thank you!