COVID-19 CRISIS APPEAL

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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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Despite being a diagnosable and curable disease, malaria remains a global health issue. In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 228 million cases of malaria, resulting in 405,000 deaths globally. 

In order to stop the spread of malaria, there are a number of tried and tested strategies that can be implemented. Here are some of the best ways to prevent the spread of disease.

Increase access to mosquito nets

Mosquito nets are one of the most effective and cheapest ways of preventing malaria transmission. The female Anopheles mosquito, which transmits malaria, mostly bites at night. Therefore it is vital for people to be protected while they sleep to prevent mosquito bites and the consequent spread of malaria. 

A mosquito net works by providing a protective layer to stop an infected mosquito from getting in close contact with a person and biting. This is a simple solution, however for families in remote or rural communities, access to mosquito nets can be difficult.

Improve diagnostics and treatment in vulnerable communities

As a disease that can be easily treated, access to healthcare is vital in fighting this disease. If not diagnosed or treated early, malaria can be fatal, particularly in infants and young children. Improving the diagnosis rate and availability of treatment within rural communities is pivotal to preventing the spread of disease.

At ChildFund, we believe that everyone should have access to quality healthcare, and are working to improve access for vulnerable children and families.

Provide a nutritious diet to strengthen children’s immune systems

Nutrition is vital to keeping any child healthy, as it helps the body fight infection and disease. Unfortunately, many families living in rural communities have low household incomes, and can’t always afford the optimal variety of food required to build a healthy immune system. 

ChildFund works in partnership with rural health clinics to deliver child and maternal health programs directly to parents. This includes providing advice on child nutrition, preventable childhood disease, and child development. When coupled with growth monitoring, it is possible to spot the signs of malnutrition in children early, and before it has a lasting impact on their health. These programs play an active role in keeping children healthy and preventing malnutrition in the first place.

Educate parents and community leaders on how to prevent malaria  

Educating parents and community leaders about malaria is an effective way to help stop the spread. This knowledge empowers adults with the knowledge they need to take the preventative measures, identify cases of malaria early, and understand when to seek professional healthcare and treatment. 

At ChildFund, our focus is on implementing programs which prioritise the health, wellbeing and resilience of children, to ensure more children survive and thrive

You can help prevent the spread of malaria

Increasing the availability of mosquito nets in affected communities is absolutely essential to reducing rates of malaria infection. Ensure a child can sleep safely throughout the night by donating a mosquito net today.

A mobile application is helping mothers and their families living in remote and rural communities in Timor-Leste stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is how we’re using the Liga Inan text messaging service as part of our COVID-19 crisis response, and what it could mean for children in poverty in the future.

How we’re using text messages to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable communities

The Liga Inan text messaging service has been used by ChildFund Timor-Leste to send information to mothers in hard-to-reach regions about maternal and child health. Now, it is being used to educate families about the deadly virus.

ChildFund Timor-Leste’s Health Project Coordinator Ninivia (pictured below), who is helping to adapt the service to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable regions in Timor-Leste, says pregnant women and mothers who have registered for the platform are now receiving COVID-19 alerts on their phones.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

What do the text messages say about COVID-19?

The messages are about how to prevent the spread of the virus, and how to identify and treat symptoms, and are based on the advice and information distributed by Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation.

“Handwashing is the one of the main messages that has been sent out,” she says. “There are also messages about the importance of social and physical distancing, and how to identify the common symptoms of the virus. There are also messages focused on best practice for pregnant and lactating mothers during the COVID situation, like whether or not to continue breastfeeding if they are sick.”

Why remote areas in Timor-Leste are more heavily impacted by the virus

Ninivia says she is worried about the spread of the virus in remote areas because Timor-Leste does not have the resources to cope with an outbreak.

“We don’t have enough equipment yet or enough facilities if the outbreak happens across the country,” she says. “It would be a huge challenge not only for the Ministry of Health, but also for the INGOs like ChildFund to support the government and communities in an outbreak. Health facilities in our country are quite limited, especially in rural communities.

“Even in metropolitan hospitals there is a lack of equipment like ventilators, so if an outbreak occurred in rural areas the communities there would struggle to find support.”