According to the Secretary-General of the WHO, this achievement is largely due to a broad range of partners coming together in the fight against malaria. Standard Chartered is one such partner. In 2006, we joined forces with five other donors to launch Nets for Life and provide one million long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLITN) across 15 African countries. By the end of 2008, 1.5 million nets had been distributed ahead of schedule and under budget.
We committed USD5 million in October 2008 to distribute a further five million treated LLITNs by 2013. Since then, Nets for Life has distributed a total of 4.7 million nets and we expect to reach the target of five million nets distributed by the end of Q1 2011.
Since its launch in 2006, Nets for Life has saved the lives of approximately 86,000 people, mostly women and children. The success of the programme can largely be attributed to an unprecedented achievement in 2010. In that year alone, we distributed a total of 3.7 million nets – an increase of over 300 per cent – through a number of large campaigns. Over four million people were reached by our messaging on malaria prevention. In Ghana, we were asked by the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to distribute 1.2 million nets. The government of Ghana has subsequently asked us to return to three regions to conduct a similar hang-up campaign using our Nets for Life methodology.
In June 2010, we were awarded the 2010 GBC Business Excellence Award for our Nets for Life partnership with ExxonMobil, Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, White Flowers Foundation, Episcopal Relief and Development, and Starr Foundation.
Establishing a net culture is critical to the long-term impact of our programme. We look to change community norms, ensuring that sleeping under a LLITN every single night becomes standard practice. We have worked hard to tailor our messages about net use to specific cultures and communities, and have trained more than 40,000 community members and Standard Chartered employees as Malaria Agents. The value of the nets we provide becomes evident to those using them consistently and correctly.
How do we know it is working? We conduct baseline data surveys and monitor key indicators to evaluate whether our targets are being met, and whether corrective measures to our distribution programme are required.8
In 2011, we will continue to focus on acquiring nets from local programmes, which will enable us to use our core funding towards strengthening Nets for Life. Having reached our initial target to distribute a total of five million nets by 2013, two years ahead of schedule, we will look at ways in which our programme can develop. We have achieved a huge amount since Nets for Life started in 2006, but we must be mindful of the future challenge in ensuring that high levels of coverage are maintained. When it comes to tackling malaria, sustained action is critical.
A personal tragedy inspired Irene Mdami, a credit underwriter in our Tanzania business, to become a Malaria Agent for Nets for Life in 2010. She explains: “In July 1995, I lost my first born son, Eric Brian, to malaria. He was aged just 11 months. It was a very bad experience, and I couldn’t believe the doctor when he told me the cause of his death was malaria. I was told that malaria has very tricky symptoms that may be confused with diseases like typhoid or even flu. From that day on, I have despised the disease and vowed to educate as many people as I possibly can about the dangers of malaria and how to prevent it.”
Irene got the chance to train members of the community in the Kisarawe District at an event organised by Standard Chartered Tanzania. As well as distributing nets to the community she was involved in a door-to-door sensitisation campaign to educate men, women and children about the dangers of malaria. Says Irene: “I met many people who were familiar with malaria and its effects, but didn’t know how to protect their surroundings. I was very surprised at how many people have very little understanding of the disease. It was a very rewarding experience to be able to share my knowledge and educate the community.”