Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Local Artists Join Anti-Malaria Fight

AFRICAN Barrick Gold Development Fund and Tanzania House of Talents have launched a programme in lake zones aiming at encouraging and maintaining the momentum of people using the nets every night to protect themselves and others from the preventable disease.

The programme dubbed 'Night watch; A unique approach to fight Malaria' is coordinated by Tanzania House of Talents (THT) and has now started to air adverts in TBC1 and radio as part of its Zinduka! Malaria Haikubaliki programme which in the lake regions, is supported by African Gold Maendeleo Fund.

African Barrick Gold Mine Corporate Affairs Head, Deo Mwanyika, said during the programme launch at the weekend that he believes this innovative communication method will compliment other efforts of fighting Malaria thus reduce unnecessary deaths in Lake regions.

"We have decided to support this programme in Lake zone because as the statistics show, Malaria is still prevalent in this region compared to other regions, but this is a way of giving back to the community we are operating in," he said.

In the lake region, Nightwatch campaign has engaged popular artists such as Diamond, Masanja Mkandamizaji, Mwasiti, Barnaba, Clouds Radio presenter Dina Marios and Ms Vicky Kamata (Member of Parliament) who will harness their popularity to provide Malaria messages to community radios.

"Using something as simple and widespread as radio to reach Tanzanian families will act as a reminder that nets save lives and we are hoping we will soon have Malaria Free Tanzania," said one of the Goodwill ambassadors, Mwasiti Almasi.

But according to Mwanyika, the misuse of the bed nets in the Lake Zone among others, involves using them for fishing, while the farmers have been using the nets in their gardens to keep away poultry from attacking vegetables. So, to say the needless, distributing the Malaria nets is just one step to curb the endemic disease, but making sure families use the nets properly, requires different approaches all together, he added.

Ms Sadaka Ghandi, Health Communication manager of the Zinduka! Project, said the use of popular culture to transform vital health messages has been very effective, adding the programme will train artists and then use their status and their fan base to put messages across.

There has been a lot of efforts on the fight against Malaria, for example over the last three years, the government has distributed more than 26.4 million free mosquito nets, plus other Malaria interventions such as rapid diagnostic tests and ACT treatments.

Malaria is the leading cause of deaths to many Tanzanians with an estimated 14 to 18 million new Malaria cases reported yearly, and 100,000-125,000 deaths, while 70,000-80,000 occur in children less than five years of age.

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