In the fight against malaria, nets and partnerships are saving lives

Today, half the world’s population continues to lack access to basic health services and commodities — a startling statistic driven in part by weak health supply chains. Health actors are increasingly looking to the World Food Programme (WFP), and its decades of expertise in supply chain and logistics, to support them in reaching the most vulnerable in the hardest-to-reach places.

Moving health supplies in a warehouse in Chad. WFP has decades of expertise in supply chain and logistics. Photo: WFP

“Malaria is a killer around here,” says Mbodou Mahamat.

The husband and father of five from Baga Sola in the Lake Chad region’s words underpin a stark and grim reality: nearly 90 percent of the world’s 216 million cases of malaria and 445,000 deaths caused by the disease are in sub- Saharan Africa.

In Chad, where Mbodou is from, malaria remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Of the 800,000 confirmed cases reported in the country, more than 44 percent are children under the age of 5, and 9 percent are pregnant women. Each day, over 97 percent of the country’s population is at risk of the deadly disease.

And yet, only 54 percent of the people who risk malaria across sub- Saharan Africa sleep under an insecticide-treated mosquito net.

“I’m in my late forties and it’s the first time … that I own mosquito nets.”

Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Chad. Sleeping under a mosquito net is the best way to reduce the risk of malaria. Photo: WFP/ Nathalie Magnien

Not Mbodou. Not anymore. “I’m in my late forties and it’s the first time, thanks to WFP, that I own mosquito nets,” he says.

Since 2017, the WFP Chad Office has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to distribute over 6.7 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets across 13 regions in the country. This was made possible by funding from the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund). Through WFP’s supply chain support and logistics expertise, over 13.5 million people now benefit from mosquito nets.

“We are very proud of the success of this operation for ourselves, WFP staff, but mainly for people we serve,” says National Logistics Officer Fidele Mi-netackdi.

“Sometimes we had to finish the last metres on foot, with a cart to arrive at the final destination.”

Success has not been without adversity. The supply chain team in Chad has had to overcome many challenges, ranging from a lack of basic infrastructure and roads to dangerous and often unstable conditions. WFP’s pool of efficient and experienced transporters has covered thousands of kms across some of the area’s most inaccessible regions, using trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, canoes, carts, and other modes of transport to ensure that deliveries were made on time to even the most remote locations.

“Sometimes we had to finish the last metres on foot with a cart to arrive at the final destination,” says National Logistics Officer Pallaye Keb-Houlbe.

A look inside a warehouse in Chad. Photo: WFP

In line with Sustainable Development Goal 17 — the goal that focuses on cooperation and partnerships for the achievement of the goals — WFP continues to expand its health supply chain partnerships.

“When I was in the field, it was very rewarding to see people so happy.”

From delivering malaria nets for partners in Zambia to constructing cholera treatment centres in Yemen, WFP is committed to transporting health and other commodities in support of the humanitarian and development community — especially in the most challenging operating environments.

“In the Lake Chad region’s islands, we used boats,” says Pallaye. “When I was in the field supervising the distributions, it was very rewarding to see people so happy.”

The figures on malaria come from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2017 World Malaria Report, which covers data from 2016.

The Global Fund bought over 55 percent of all insecticide-treated mosquito nets (~116 million) in 2015, with approximately 60 percent of those mosquito nets (~69 million) going to just six countries: Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India and Nigeria.

Written by Julie Chang with additional reporting by Nathalie Magnien, Divya Mehra and Domenica Sabella

Learn more about supply chain at WFP

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

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