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ProMPT Model Provides a Roadmap to Hang Bed Nets for Millions in Ghana
Over the past month, nearly 15,000 trained community volunteers visited each household in the Ashanti region of Ghana—from the densely-populated city of Kumasi to remote villages in the region's forested areas— to register nearly every household in the region of five million people for free, long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs). Registration is the first step in a distribution campaign in which more than 40,000 volunteers will deliver and hang nets in the registered households.
Carrying out such a massive effort requires careful orchestration of multiple activities at all levels of the health system and coordination of numerous groups, including donor and implementing agencies, civil society organizations, and community leaders. Fortunately, the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID's) Promoting Malaria Prevention and Treatment (ProMPT) project, funded by the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), worked with Ghana's National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to develop an innovative model that ensures that all these actors work together for a common cause. ProMPT is managed by University Research Co., LLC.
Distributing and hanging LLINs is one of NMCP's key strategies to combat malaria, the disease responsible for almost a third of all child deaths in the country. The treated nets kill the mosquitoes that transmit malaria on contact and prevent them from biting people that sleep under the nets at night, when mosquitoes are most active.
However, properly hanging, using and caring for LLINs requires some skill and knowledge, which is why door-to-door campaigns provide opportunities that other LLIN distribution strategies do not: while hanging bed nets over sleeping places, volunteers also inform residents about the benefits of routinely sleeping under the nets and teach people how to care for them.
A Successful Model
Effectively coordinating LLIN distribution and hang-up at a large scale—training volunteers, coordinating supplies, preparing communities for the visits, and monitoring and evaluating each of these steps—requires significant forethought. ProMPT's model lays out a roadmap for the entire process. LLIN campaigns in five regions of Ghana have already successfully applied the model; an evaluation of the campaign in the Northern region showed that ownership of insecticide-treated nets more than doubled in 2010.
The NMCP and other partners, including the Ghana Health Service; Malaria No More UK; the USAID DELIVER project; NetsforLife Ghana; The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID); and UNICEF relied on the model and ProMPT's leadership to define an action plan.
Using the information collected during registration, partners in the Ashanti campaign will ensure that volunteers have the correct number of nets and other supplies—such as hammers, nails and ropes—to deliver and hang nets in every household in the region by the end of the month.
NMCP, ProMPT, and other partners will continue to use the model in other regions until Ghana achieves its goal of universal coverage: one LLIN for every two people in the country.
ProMPT has worked with the NMCP since 2009 to strengthen malaria prevention and control and scale up evidence-based malaria interventions. The project is building the NMCP's capacity and effectiveness and is engaging NGOs, communities, and the private sector to broaden the program's reach.
In addition to developing effective systems to distribute LLINs and promote their use, ProMPT is improving the quality of malaria diagnosis and treatment and malaria in pregnancy services, strengthening monitoring and evaluation for collection and analysis of accurate data, building the capacity of NGOs to implement community-based malaria activities, mobilizing broad sectors of civil society for malaria prevention and control, and extending malaria diagnosis and treatment through community case management.
ProMPT and other partners like DELIVER are also supporting the NMCP to implement other distribution models to help the country maintain the high net ownership levels achieved by the universal coverage campaigns.
March 12, 2012