Health Projects Run by the AHS
What is the need ?
Recorded statistics show Malaria as one of the main causes of death in PNG. The incidence is much higher than the recorded statistics show because a high proportion of patients, perhaps the majority in rural areas, do not seek treatment and, therefore, are not recorded. Papua New Guineans regard Malaria almost as Europeans regard Influenza; as virtually inevitable. The consequences, of course, are much more severe with an insidious increase in Treatment Failure Malaria and deaths.
When we [the National Health Secretary, Peter Rookes and his wife Jean Rookes] have visited churches to talk about Malaria and distribute mosquito nets, we have asked members of the congregation to raise their hands if they have had Malaria, it is unusual to see an unraised hand!
How do Mosquito Nets help ?
The vast number of people living in developing countries do not have the resources to buy anti-malarial medication or mosquito repellent creams or sprays. Some attempt can be made to destroy mosquito breeding sites, but if people are unfortunate enough to be living close to a swampy area, the task becomes too huge to be practical. The primary, and most effective, means of protection for most people, therefore, is to sleep under a treated mosquito net. Like so many things, those people who have the greatest need, are those least able to pay. Our programme is to supply mosquito nets at a subsidised price and to provide the 6-monthly chemical treatment free.
Elisha remembers how he and other members of his family suffered Malaria and how his 10 year old son, David, died. He hadn't realised the importance of sleeping under a treated mosquito net. Even if he had, he didn't know where he could obtain one, other than in the town supermarket where they were far too expensive for him. He purchased 2 treated mosquito nets provided under our programme, when health workers held a treatment session after the church service. One for himself and his wife, and the other for his children. He realises the importance of always sleeping under the net and getting them treated, so takes them back every 6 months to get them dipped in the "marasin" (the local word for the chemical permethrin).
Where are Mosquito Nets distributed ?
The Anglican Health Service purchases mosquito nets at a subsidised price from Rotary Against Malaria. We then supply them to each of our health facilities for distribution. The nets are much more effective if they are soaked in a solution of Permethrin. Although the Permethrin is expensive for us to purchase, we supply it free of charge to ensure that treated mosquito nets are as accessible as possible to everyone. We also absorb the cost of freight. We encourage communities to set up treatment days, when people bring their nets to be retreated and those without nets can purchase them.