Niger launched a nationwide campaign on Saturday, World Malaria Day, to distribute 2.8 million mosquito nets impregnated with insecticide to combat malaria.
The ambitious effort began in Tibiri, in the centre-south Maradi region, and will continue through Wednesday across this vast nation at more than 7,000 locations, with mobile teams reaching out to nomadic communities as well.
Beneficiaries will get up to two nets upon presentation of vouchers that were previously distributed, notably to children, during a polio vaccination campaign.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Turberculosis and Malaria has provided 29 million dollars (21.9 million euros) for the first phase of the campaign, in which Catholic Relief Services and its local partners are participating.
The goal is to ensure that 80 percent of Niger's children under the age of five as well as expectant mothers can sleep under mosquito nets to minimize the risk of contracting malaria.
In marketplaces in Niger, similar nets typically cost 5,000 CFA francs (7.50 euros, 10 dollars), far beyond the reach of most families, with the result that only 7.4 percent of children under five sleep under one.
With about 800,000 cases a year, malaria remains the leading cause of death among children in Niger, contributing to a worldwide malaria fatality rate of one million per year, according to the World Health Organization.