7 January 2013

Gambia: YCFaC Spearheads Anti-Malaria Campaign in WCR

Your Change For a Change (YCFaC), a non-profit-making organisation, has intensified its anti-malaria campaign with a donation of 700 treated bednets to the people of the West Coast Region during celebrations marking its 2nd anniversary, centred on the theme, "Every step counts, making preventable diseases history."

The nets, received by the chief executive officer of the Brikama Area Council (BAC), Tamba Kinteh, at the Gambia College hall in Brikama on behalf of the beneficiaries, was part of the YCFaC's efforts to keep malaria at bay, especially for pregnant mothers and children.

It would be recalled that in January 2012, YCFaC distributed 500 bed nets in Marakissa and the surrounding villages after the community was identified as the hardest-hit in the West Coast Region, in terms of malaria prevalence.

YCFaC is a non-profit organisation founded in 2011 by some dedicated young Gambians living in the United States, before it was subsequently registered in The Gambia, United Kingdom and Sweden. It has the mission to make available quality and responsive disease prevention and management incentives for communities.

Speaking at the occasion, the programme manager of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Adam Jagne-Sonko, who represented the minister of Health and Social Welfare, said, malaria control and prevention requires strong partnership for better results.

"In The Gambia, malaria is the probable cause of 4% of deaths among children," she said, adding that it has also increased household expenditure on health by up to 75%. Malaria, she expalined, is preventable and curable, noting that at the level of the ministry, they are now trying to increase early treatment measures against the disease.

Jagne-Sonko told the members of YCFaC that bed net usage and regular follow-ups are vital to the fight against the disease and that if all hands are put on deck, the target of malaria pre-elimination by 2015 will be surely attained. She further hailed the step taken by the YCFaC in the fight against malaria, indicating that, this kind of malaria control mechanism will yield good results.

The Gambia country director of YCFaC, Lamin Darboe, for his part, said the step taken by the members is meant to give malaria a human face, so that people can understand more about its economic implications."We are trying to make people not to view malaria as foreign but a thing that they are every day living with," he said. One of the best practices that can prevent malaria infection, he said is to sleep under an insecticide treated bed net.

Darboe further told the gathering that the 700 bed nets are targeted for people who really needed them; such as pregnant mothers and children. "The mere presentation of bed nets may not necessarily address malaria and that's why our ultimate goal is to make all preventable diseases history in The Gambia,"he underscored.

Darboe made reference to the 500 bed nets they distributed in Marakisa and the surrounding villages last year,that since that distribution, they have found through surveys that none of the benefactors were diagnosed with malaria thus far. "Hearing this great news makes our relentless efforts worthwhile," he noted.

YCFaC director then used the occasion to thank their main partners, including the Brikama Area Council, Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, for their support to the organisation.

The executive director of the Gambia Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP), Dr. Isatou Touray, observed that malaria has affected a lot of people in Africa; particularly in the sub-Saharan region; and that it remains one of the biggest killer diseases in The Gambia. The women's activist further stressed that in order to eradicate national development obstructive diseases like malaria there is the urgent need for people to come together and constructively deal with them.

Dr Touray encouraged the members of the organisation to continue their crusade against malaria, saying "you are serving humanity because malaria is going endemic in our societies."

A representative from the Medical Research Council (MRC), Musa Jawara; and Kadi Omar Singateh, a member of the YCFaC global team, both agreed that Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) are effective in the prevention and control of malaria. Jawara told the gathering that the use of ITNs is globally recommended with a dramatic reduction in malaria over the last years, according to a WHO report.

Other speakers included Sheikh Omar Bittaye, deputy country director of the organisation and Sukai Cham, the communication officer; they both spoke of the giant strides the organisation has taken in the fight against malaria.

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