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Joint effort to fight malaria in Angola

May 13, 2001, 01:00 CEST

Angolan newspapers recently named malaria the country's number one killer. In the capital city Luanda, eight out of 10 residents seek medical aid for the mosquito-inflicted disease, according to the Angolan Health Directorate.

Thanks to a joint effort started in 2000 by UNICEF and Texaco personnel, some oil industry companies in Angola are collectively distributing thousands of impregnated mosquito nets, estimated to reduce the chance of illness by 25 percent.

Last year, Hydro and its employees were challenged by Tako Konning in Texaco and Torill Østvet from UNICEF to help raise funds to buy and distribute nets among the natural resource rich country's disparately large number of refugees and poor inhabitants, explains Hydro Exploration and Production, Angola project consultant Anne Traaholt.

During the first year the fund raising campaign raised USD 11,000 among the international buisness community in Luanda, from employees and companies alike. "The funds were to be spent 100 percent for nets - no administration," she says.

The first order for 1,050 family-sized nets was placed with a company in Asia. The nets have now been distributed by UNICEF, the Norwegian Refugee Council. Fifty of the nets were given to an orphanage in Luanda. Recipients were also given information on use and care. The nets have to be periodically re-impregnated and the donating organizations will help with this, she comments.

A fundraising committee formed by representatives of Chevron, BP, Halliburton, Schlumberger and Norsk Hydro recently ordered 1,000 new nets from a local producer. The committee's first goal is to raise funds for 5,000 nets. The ultimate target is to get support from both within and outside Angola.

Vaccines and/or prophylactic medications are presently out of reach of poor Angolans. In addition, resistance to common malaria drugs is widespread. The use of nets is key to reducing the spread of the illness. After more than 25 years of civil war and under-development, the vast majority of Angolans live in extreme poverty.

"With little money to buy protective nets, people are easy prey to the infected mosquitos. In particular, children. The World Health Organization estimates 2,500 African children under five die every day from malaria," Traaholt says.

The MosquitoNet Fundraising Committee consists of: Anne Traaholt, Norsk Hydro, e-mail, Anne.Traaholt@hydro.com, tel. 351809; Tako Koning, Elizabeth Halliday, at Texaco Angola, tel. 322606; Marte Soma, UNICEF, Luanda, tel. 331010; Mary Mitro, Chevron, tel. 392646, ext. 1367; 352021; Jill Derderian, c/o USA Embassy, tel. 2447028; Sooje Park, Asian Community, tel. 326763; Priscilla Olivier, Luanda International School, tel. 343416; Jim Mills, e-mail, jim.mills@haliburton.com; Michael Vermeulen, BP, e-mail, vermeu@bp.com; and "Georgie" Collis, Schlumberger, tel. 310926.