CJTF-HOA Civil Affairs Assists With Curbing Malaria Outbreak
Residents of Hawi Gudina, West Hararghe zone, Oromia regional state, Ethiopia, received aid in the form of nearly 900 long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) from a U.S. Army Civil Affairs team assigned to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, July 27, 2010.
Hawi Gudina is a recently resettled village in the southern part of Ethiopia, and is experiencing an outbreak of malaria, due to heavy rains in the area which created standing water, a breeding ground for the malaria carrying Anopheles mosquito. The President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), a $1.2 billion project to combat malaria in Africa, is a program set in place in 2006, and is a collaborative effort between the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Health and Human Services, and provides the LLINs for distribution to malaria affected areas, along with education for local health volunteers assisting with the distribution.
"We start by educating key communicators in the local population, such as religious leaders and influential community elders, and we assist in the entire process, from education, to distribution to making sure the nets are actually making it into the homes and being properly used," said 1st Lieutenant Dan Deckard, team leader, U.S. Army Civil Affairs.
According to Dr. Joseph Malone, Medical Officer and CDC Resident Advisor in Ethiopia, the process began when a request came in from the Oromia Regional Health Bureau deputy chief Monday, July 19, prompted by a local malaria outbreak in Hawi Gudina. The CJTF-HOA Civil Affairs team was deployed to the area several days later, and began training local volunteer health workers, along with another USAID/PMI implementing partner, Communication for Change (C-Change). After the C-Change team provided the initial orientation and training, the CJTF-HOA Civil Affairs team was scheduled to take the lead in coordinating the net distribution and installation along with trained volunteer health workers in targeted villages.
"We as a U.S. military force provide logistical support, but ultimately we want to enable the local health community to set up a system for successful future operations, whether they are LLIN distributions, vaccinations or any sort of aid," said Deckard. Malaria is ranked as the leading communicable disease in Ethiopia. Approximately 75 percent of the country is malarious with about 68 percent of the total population of 73 million living in areas at risk of malaria. Malaria is reported to cause 70,000 deaths each year.
For more information, visit the President's Malaria Initiative website at www.pmi.gov.