Each year malaria kills more people worldwide than HIV/AIDS (about 3 million people), with the majority of the deaths occurring in children under five years of age. Unlike AIDS, malaria can be prevented and cured.
Sumba has one of the highest occurrences of malaria in Asia. An estimated 20% of all children die or become severely brain damaged by malaria before the age of 10. Based on our clinical surveys of targeted villages, 62% of the children below the age of 5 and 30% of the total population had malaria. That number has now been drastically reduced by 85% in the children living in the villages that are covered in Phase 1 of our Malaria Control Program.
To address this urgent problem, in 2004 we retained a world renowned malaria expert, Dr. Claus Bogh, and began Phase 1 of our comprehensive Malaria Control Program covering 603 people in 6 villages. In 2006, our Phase 2 expansion reached 4,600 people living in 51 villages. In 2007 & 2008 we expanded out even further and now this program is benefiting more than 18,000 people living in 400 villages. 6,000 treated mosquito nets have distributed free of charge with more than 10,000 people sleeping safer and protected at night. Hundreds of lives have been saved annually.
Our project has expanded rapidly thanks to funding primarily provided by private donors who recently have been joined by Rotary International clubs from Western Australia. We started expanding our project fivefold in 2007 with the work continuing into 2008 and 2009. Hundreds of villages and thousands of more people are now benefiting from the work we are doing.
However as we expand in the field we also need to hire and train more staff and to improve our infrastructure. We also have to maintain, diagnose and treat those that are now under our aid umbrella. Funding is crucial to the long term sustainability and success of our work.
Our comprehensive approach includes; conducting baseline testing to establish existing malaria infection rates and a population census for each village, the distribution of insecticide treated mosquito nets for each household, on-going testing and treatment for malaria cases. We are also constantly upgrading our clinics capabilities for malaria diagnosis and treatment and consistent monitoring of bed net usage and maintenance. Our goal is to eliminate all deaths from malaria in our project areas and to reduce the number of malaria cases by at least 90%.
Donors are very welcome to visit the villages and the people they are helping. If the project director, Dr. Claus Bogh, is in Sumba he will be happy to discuss the projects and give a tour of our malaria clinic and our microscopy facility where you will have the opportunity to see what malaria parasites look like.
More information can be found at our Malaria Information page