The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) through its National Vector Borne Disease Control (NVBDC) Department is once again conducting nation- wide distribution of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs), also known as mosquito nets.
This is not a new activity; it has started way-back in the 1990s and conducted after every three years, when the effectiveness of the chemical impregnated in the nets wares out. The chemical is important to kill the mosquitoes once they come in contact with the nets.
Albino Bobogare, National Director of NVBDC explained that 2021 has been earmarked for another round of mass-distribution but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed distribution schedule, hence the implementation in the last quarter of this year.
“Nevertheless, we are determined to complete trainings for community groups who will be supporting the distribution by end of this year for all provinces and distribution to be completed by early next year. In fact, Central Islands and Guadalcanal provinces have completed the trainings and have commenced their distribution already”, explained Mr Bobogare.
Mr Bobogare said that in Solomon Islands malaria has been increasing since 2015 especially for PV (Plasmodium Vivax) one of the two common species of parasites that causes not only malaria but reoccurrences of illness in persons. However reported mortality has been decreasing with only 3 confirmed and probable malaria related deaths in 2020.”
“So the main purpose of the nets are to kill the mosquitoes and protect people from getting sick from malaria through mosquito bites. This is geared towards the goal of reducing malaria cases and mortality and achieve the long term goal of eliminating malaria in Solomon Islands by 2030”, highlighted Mr Bobogare.
“Therefore, it is important that recipients of the bed nets make use of the nets and not to misuse it as have been reported in the past across the country of people using the new nets for farming, fishing and other activities other than protection against malaria”, Said Mr Bobogare.
This week training was held for Honiara City community based church leaders and representatives whom Honiara City Health Department have partnered with to roll out the distribution.
Dr Chris Becha, Director Health, Honiara City Council thanked the participants for attending the training.
“Churches remain potential partners in the implementation of health programs due to their presence in almost all communities and their influential power on community members. This will greatly add to our efforts to not only distribute the nets but ensure that it is done properly making sure that it is adequate for all persons within a household, so we are very pleased to have engaged this groups for distribution in Honiara”, highlighted Dr Becha.
NVBDC have undertaken a different approach towards distribution of the bed nets as opposed to previous distributions whereby the nets are dropped off at the communities without reaching every household.
In this new strategy, community representatives, as in the case of HCC, church representatives, were invited for the distribution program. Based on their structure and capacity, they identified the engagement and empowerment of their youths to support the net distribution in HCC. The NVBDC and HCC VBDC guide them to finalize their micro-plans to ensure the nets reach every household-“the last mile”.
This approach aims to install responsibility and ownership amongst the recipients themselves for care of and longevity of the nets.
The Ministry of Health remains grateful towards Solomon Islands Government for ongoing support towards the Malaria program and Global Fund for continuous support in providing a total of 672,492 nets for this cycle of nationwide distribution. The Ministry of Health is also thankful towards WHO for the technical support rendered towards the NVBDC program and all implementing partners, churches, communities, non-government organizations including the private sector.
National awareness via national broadcaster, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, radio, community awareness, interpersonal communication and social media campaign to raise awareness on the importance of using the nets, how to properly use and care for it will be rolled out soon.
Next year, use of mosquito spraying indoors will recommence but only for hot spot areas across the country.