Namibia: Malaria Nets for Rural Namibia

A local clinic, in Ondangwa filled with community members, illustrates the pressure and overwhelming demands on the health system. Through a collaborative approach that has evolved between various partners - J.C. Flowers Foundation, BASF, local Anglican faith leaders, and the government - each is empowered to play their role according to their strengths and regional presence.

THE JC Flowers Foundation, which is working towards eliminating malaria in southern Africa, has joined forces with German company Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik (BASF), a leading chemical producer to deliver 26 000 Interceptor® long-lasting, insecticide-treated mosquito nets to rural Namibia.

The community and Anglican faith leaders gathered in the northern town of Ondangwa to mobilise a broad initiative that aims to reduce and ultimately eliminate malaria from the border regions of southern Africa.

"Through an innovative partnership between BASF and the JC Flowers Foundation, and a creative approach that builds on the established relationships that faith leaders have in rural and remote communities, we cannot only help save lives but advance a shared global goal to eliminate malaria from our region," said Anglican bishop Luke Pato of the Namibian diocese.

"In the fight against malaria, Namibia has tremendous gains to build on and, now, more than any other time in history, we must truly commit the resources, political will, and the reach of the private sector to eliminate it," Pato added.

Malaria claims the lives of approximately 445 000 people a year, 70% of whom are children under five years of age. It is estimated that up to 50% of preventable school absenteeism in high-burden African countries is caused by malaria, which costs Africa US$12 billion in lost GDP annually. In Namibia, the fight against malaria has gained momentum, and a clear government commitment has led a 90% reduction in malaria rates.

"Malaria is preventable and treatable, but still is arguably the most severe vector-borne public health challenge facing Africa and many other regions of the world. While increased efforts over the last two decades have drastically reduced malaria deaths and cases - malaria mortality rates dropped by more than 60%, averting six million deaths - innovations and partnerships are still needed to maintain momentum. That's why BASF is committed to taking an active role in the control and eradication of this debilitating disease. We have been working in partnership with the JC Flowers Foundation for many years, and are very pleased to continue our support for their valuable work in combating the challenges of malaria," said Benoit Fricard, country cluster head of BASF southern Africa.

The partnership between BASF and the JC Flowers Foundation, through its Isdell: Flowers cross-border malaria initiative, is working together with the Namibian government and with support from the Global Fund towards the elimination of malaria. The Isdell: Flowers initiative aims to shrink the malaria map by working in the cross-border areas of Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe said Neville Isdell, who is former chairman and chief executive officer of the Coca-Cola Company.

Africa, which is home to 91% of malaria deaths worldwide, has seen that victory against the disease is within reach. To indeed eliminate malaria, which claims one life every two minutes, countries must put all of their energies to go "the very last mile" -- the most critical and challenging mile of them all. Isdell: Flowers, working with the community and religious leaders to strengthen surveillance, community education, diagnosis and treatment, seeks to couple an evidence-based elimination strategy with an enabling environment - of strong political will and financial support.

"Winning the battle against malaria is not a sprint, it's a long, gruelling marathon, and we must go the last mile," said Neville Isdell, co-founder of the Isdell: Flowers cross-border malaria initiative. "It's clear that if we can get a Coke to the most distant villages in the world, we can also get the essentials to eliminate malaria," stated Isdell.

He added: "But proven tools to eliminate malaria will not work if people don't use them. The church's active work in communities to change people's behaviour is a game-changer in the fight against the disease."

"With funding, perseverance and creative solutions, the fight against malaria is ours to win," stated Christopher Flowers, CEO of JC Flowers and Co, and co-founder of the Isdell: Flowers cross-border malaria initiative. He noted that for every dollar invested in malaria, there is a US$36 return in increased productivity.

"It's not only a smart investment, but it also propels us towards the last mile, and towards our collective aim of global malaria eradication. We are the readily accepted messengers in our rural and remote communities, and in this role, we are increasingly recognised as an effective force to combat malaria," stated Pato. "It's a role that we're enthusiastic about."

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