Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to Talk Yourself into Someone's Bedroom

Today I have discovered the best way to talk yourself into someone’s bedroom! Just kidding, or… not really. I just completed my first field trip in Madagascar by visiting a dozen rural bedrooms in and around Maevatanana. 

For my work as a consultant for PSI, an American NGO, I am involved in the monitoring of a large mosquito net distribution campaign. PSI is distributing more than 5.5 million nets all over Madagascar, in 6 days.  The campaign is part of a world wide effort to roll back malaria, financed by USAID, Global Fund, and others.

It sounds pretty easy, right? Just go door-to-door and hand over one net for every three people in each house. Well, it's not really. 

Firstly, there are no records about the number of houses or how many members each household has. That makes it hard to plan logistics. 

Secondly, it’s not enough to just hand out mosquito nets; people need to know why they need them, how to hang them up, and what to do with the packaging which is contaminated with insecticide, for example. Also we need to know exactly how many nets have been distributed. We cooperate with existing authorities, such as health centers, village chiefs, and community agents. They all need to be informed, trained, compensated, monitored, and supervised. 

To give you some stats:

  • Number of mosquito nets (think: importation, boarder formalities, storage, transportation, distribution) : 5.5 million
  •  Total population (think: inform them when to get it, how to use it – not for fishing or as curtains!):  13.329.250 people
  • Number of locations: 72 districts divided into 11.131 divisions (think: some of them are two days walking distance from the distribution point, a pack can weigh up to 30 kilos)
  • Number of community agents: 41,134 (think: equip all of them with forms and tools for the campaign).
  • Total campaign costs : around USD 8M, excluding the costs of the nets. This comes down to one dollar and 45 cents per net which last 2 years, or less than a dollar per person.

Get the picture? It’s big. My humble task is to help with the monitoring, making sure the records are kept and that data are being entered and analyzed (think: databases, computers, typists) for the final report.

I had to go see for myself how this is all working out. And you know what? In the region I went it worked out G-R-E-A-T.  All the households I visited- by surprise - had their nets hanging happily. At all the sites I've seen people buried the trash ‘comme il faut’. 

Of course, the real impact in terms of  malaria reduction can only be measured after some time, and there were many logistical and political hiccups to overcome during the distribution, but my impression still stands: NE(A)T.

So, sleep tight Maevatanana, don't let the mozzies bite!

Sleep well, US and European tax payers, rest assuredyour money has reached the poorest of the poor, the 'farest' of the far, all the way on the mystical island of Madgascar (it rhymes!).

66 packs of 50 nets and 174 packs of 20 nets still in stock

Community mobilizer in rural commune

Children under 5 yrs are the most vulnerable to malaria

Bags are taken off the nets and buried before distribution, to prevent nets from being sold

En route to yet another bedroom!

Blue is better than white, as white is for covering the dead.

For the first time in his life he will sleep under a net

During the day the nets are put up

Boy resting in his parents bed

Sleep tight - Maevatanana, don't let the mozzies bite!

1 comment:

  1. Great to see you have joined the fight against malaria!