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MALARIA: Children at the heart of prevention strategy

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"My son was two years old when he started having nausea and diarrhea, then a fever. After several days of convulsions, he fainted in my arms before dying.” This sad testimony from a mother in Niger echoes the experience of many mothers.

Malaria is the deadliest parasitic disease on the planet and the most prevalent, occurring mainly on the continent of Africa. In 2016, 90% of malaria cases and 91% of deaths attributed to the disease were in Africa. There are also accompanying socio-economic consequences, such as school absenteeism in the affected countries.

"According to the WHO, a child dies from malaria every two minutes."

Malaria is one of the leading causes of death among children under five in Africa. Young children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable.

"Because today’s children are tomorrow’s adults, educating them is an effective means of fighting malaria"

While children are the first victims of malaria, they can also play an active role in prevention campaigns designed to achieve the behavioral change needed to roll back the disease. Too many people, particularly children, are still unaware of the link between a mosquito and malaria.

This is how they get to know the cartoon character, Dabo, an ambassador for the fight against malaria. They discover through him that the mosquito (female Anopheles) can be very dangerous and that it is necessary to protect themselves because the disease can be fatal if untreated.

Dabo also explains the key actions to take to prevent being infected: sleeping under a mosquito net infused with repellent product, using anti-mosquito spirals and cleaning up the environment around their homes. In addition, recognizing the symptoms of malaria is essential so that children can alert their parents and be taken to emergency centers for proper care.

Sanofi’s Commitment to the Fight against Malaria

While continued investment in research and innovative solutions for the control and prevention of malaria is vital, medicines alone will not be enough to stop the spread of the disease.

This is the goal of the Schoolchildren against Malaria program developed 10 years ago by Sanofi and successfully deployed in 17 African countries. This communications project focuses on promoting behavioral change with an emphasis on preventing and treating the disease.

The aim is to raise children's awareness at school through engaging educational tools developed by Sanofi in partnership with local National Malaria Control Programs. Once sensitized to the disease, children become true ambassadors for malaria and can pass on the prevention messages and the proper actions to their families, neighbors and the community.

“For 10 years, the Schoolchildren against Malaria program has been empowering children to share key messages on malaria prevention within their community. Their enthusiasm and generosity is key for success. The proverb “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings come grains of truth” has never been so true!”
Isabelle Villadary, Head Malaria Program, Sanofi Global Health Programs.

These young ambassadors thus become agents of change, engaging the community in the fight against malaria.

The progress made during the past several years in the fight against this disease has contributed to a significant reduction in the number of child deaths on the African continent.

The number of new cases worldwide decreased by 37% between 2000 and 2015 and malaria-related deaths among high-risk populations dropped by 60%; 57 countries have seen their malaria cases reduced by almost 75%; and six countries have managed to eradicate the disease.

However, according to the WHO in its December 2016 report, the trend seems to be reversing. For the first time in 10 years, the number of malaria cases has increased again. In 2016, 216 million people contracted the disease worldwide, 5 million more than the previous year, and a return to 2012 levels.

This epidemic continues to kill a child every two minutes worldwide. World Malaria Day is here to remind us that the disease remains a major public health problem and that no mother should ever have to endure the pain of losing a child because of a mosquito bite.

Children playing cards

A complete range of learning tools - MOSKI Kit

With the MOSKI KIT, Sanofi offers children the opportunity to obtain the key messages about malaria, its dangers and its prevention in a fun and interesting way. Presented in a school carrying case, the MOSKI KIT contains several complementary engaging educational elements. In March 2016, the MOSKI KIT received the top prize as “the most valuable patient service initiative” at the EyeforPharma Awards in Barcelona.

MOSKI Toon - Discover our ambassador EDDY

Building on the success of the MOSKI KIT, Sanofi has enriched its range of youth-oriented tools with an educational cartoon. This new awareness tool tells the story of a boy, EDDY, who teaches his young cousins different methods of preventing and managing malaria. Its impact on the knowledge, attitudes and practices of children with regard to malaria was evaluated by the Ipsos Institute in December 2016 with 410 children aged 7 to 12, in both urban and rural environments in Côte d'Ivoire and Kenya. The cartoon enabled the children to gain a better level of knowledge about the disease. It also encouraged them to change their attitudes towards malaria and to convince their families to do the same.

Infographic and key figures about malaria