With our Barrow Kunda distribution complete and every citizen of that village now having a long-lasting insecticidal treated bednet to sleep under, we had an extra 120 bednets remaining that we had not planned for. Sticking to our goal of delegating as much local control as possible, we asked the leadership of Barrow Kunda to decide what they would like done with the remaining nets. We were pleased when they told us that it was their preference to share the remaining nets with two tiny villages called Mano Koto Forde and Mano Koto Keita, located about 5 km from Barrow Kunda. Within hours we organized a census to see how many nets would be needed to provide blanket coverage to these two villages. As luck would have it, the census revealed that 120 nets would be needed for comprehensive bednet coverage. Thus, on December 20th we mobilized our net distribution team to make the 5 km trek to the Mano Koto villages to conduct two more net distributions. Both distributions went as well as we could have hoped and we had the satisfaction of covering two more villages than originally planed with universal bednet coverage. Below left is an image of the “local transportation” we utilized to move the nets from Barrow Kunda to the Mano Koto villages; at right is an image of the distribution from the Mano Koto Fordge distribution.
I left Barrow Kunda on December 29th with a feeling that we had started something big. There are 6,500 nets currently in Dakar that are awaiting transport to Gambia so that they can distributed to other villages in the Wuli District. Because of school and the high cost of traveling to West Africa, Michelle and I will be unable to return to The Gambia for the distributions that will occur over the next year. But we are satisfied that we have created momentum for a locally controlled model of net distributions that foster a sense of ownership among the community. We look forward to collaborating with the US Peace Corps, The Gambian Malaria Control Programme and other NGO’s in the next several months as the remaining bednets are distributed to Gambian men, women and children to help protect against malarial infection.
Lastly, a huge thank you to the USC Office for Global Health. A project of this nature, where you have a couple of poor graduate students trying to do work halfway across the globe, would simply not be possible without the support of the university. We are fortunate at USC to have Dr. Jonathan Samet, Dr. Heather Wipfli, Ivette Flores Guintu and the rest of the Office for Global Health staff that are quickly establishing USC as a leader in global health. Other members of the USC community that graciously supported this project are Dr. Jo Marie Reilly of the Family Medicine Department and Dr. Alice Stek of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
We will continue to raise funds to achieve our goal of universal bednet coverage in the district of Wuli. There is still a ways to go before we achieve this goal. To see how you can help us, please visit our website at www.sutoyediya.org. Thanks!