Four Small Ivory Coast Villages
Show Appreciation for ICMRT Nets


Elementary school children in their uniforms are lined up on both sides of the main dirt road leading to Azuretti, clapping their hands and chanting something I can't quite make out. The scenes I am watching on a video-CD are reminiscent of images of my own school days when foreign heads of state were visiting the Ivory Coast. Azuretti is a fishing village of about 1,800 people, 35 miles east of Abidjan, the capital city of Ivory Coast. On October 30, 2008 however, the children are greeting the arrival of local administration officials from nearby Grand-Bassam, the representatives of the national health administration, the chiefs of Azuretti and Gbame´le´, their councils, and ICMRT's and partner-organizations representatives in the Ivory Coast. Their procession leads to Azuretti's elementary school where a distribution of long lasting mosquito nets will take place.

 
Display of bales of long lasting mosquito nets. Administration official symbolically presenting a mosquito net to a young girl. Azuretti village chief making a libation thanking ICMRT's net donation to Azuretti and Gbamélé. Group photo after symbolic net distribution. ICMRT representative (in black suit); pregnant women and young girl showing their nets. Group photo in N'guessankoi after symbolic net Pregnant women, young girls and village chiefs showing their nets.

This ceremonial distribution is meant to be symbolic. In fact, later on this day, community health workers trained by ICMRT's local partners will visit every household of Azuretti and Gbamélé, separated by only 1.5 mile,

 

to install these nets. Unlike distribution at the regional health centers in Grand-Bassam, or during the recent measles immunization campaign, this distribution will cover every household, ensure immediate net usage, avoid the possibility of resale, and include follow up monitoring for the next two years.

 

In the school yard, a big tent has been erected for this festive occasion, and already many men and women from Azuretti and Gbamélé have taken their seats, waiting for the ceremony to

start. The front row chairs are reserved. These are covered with “kente”, a colorful hand-woven cloth used for special occasions. They are for seating the arriving village dignitaries and their guests. On one side of the tent, bales of individually sealed mosquito nets are neatly stacked. The ceremony starts in earnest after the arrival of the dignitaries at 10:30 am. As is customary they take their turn with thank-you speeches.

Then it is the turn of the chief of Azuretti to speak on behalf of the two villages. He provides a libation of water to the ancestors, blessing ICMRT for their gifts to the village and stressing the selfless acts of those in a far away place these life-giving gifts.

The ceremony continues with a presentation of nets by administration officials, ICMRT and partners; first to a 6 year old girl, dressed in traditional wrap around the waist and head ornaments, then to the two village chiefs and a group of pregnant women.

The next day, December 1, the scene repeats itself in N’guessankoi, a village located in the Adzopé region, 60 miles north-east of the capital city of Abidjan. Inhabitants of this village, their chief and those of nearby Ayalo also receive their nets, symbolically.

 
Meeting with the village headman of Ayalo (in white) and a notable Family posing after receiving their net Mother and child under their mosquito net in Azuretti Dr. Tia from CEMV training community health workers Enquete parasito-clinique, prise de sang d'un enfant

I wished I was there in the Ivory Coast witnessing these events myself, rather than through a TV screen. Perhaps, it might have been as well that I wasn't, because the celebration also left me overwhelmed and a bit choked up. Village dignitaries mobilized their populations to display their deep gratitude that their modest villages would be chosen for the free distribution of mosquito nets. The final images of the videos were less formal. They showed community health workers hammering nails into the walls of family dwellings to attach the nets; then a woman and child inside their net demonstrating their new sleeping arrangement.

ICMRT and partner-organization representatives returned to these villages a month later to assess the level of net usage. 98 percent of ICMRT and partner-organization representatives returned to these villages a month later to assess the level of net usage. 98 percent of recipients now sleep under their nets every day. Some villagers from Azuretti and Gbamélé, who occasionally slept on the beach to enjoy the ocean breeze in order to escape the heat of the night, now take their net with them to fend off mosquitoes. This and the picture of the woman and child under their newly installed net are images we can keep of a successful mosquito net distribution.

The education our local partner-organization provided to net-recipients at home is bearing fruit. Because of this small project, health officials in Abidjan are recognizing the benefit of following up net-recipients in their homes for malaria education and net installation. To attempt to replicate this model in large cities would be cost-prohibitive;

however, the approach championed by ICMRT and its partners is less resource-intensive yet very effective in small communities.

Your continued support in 2009 will help make malaria a thing of the past in many more villages whose population is responsible for the crops that feed the country.

Thank you and happy new year!

Alain Adjorlolo
ICMRT President
 

Blood test and care in n'guessankoi From left to right, Dr. Boby and Dr Tia of the CEMV Dr Tia of the CEMV putting back(handing) a mosquito net to a notable of Azu M Sibiri of Djigui Fondation A sight of the bénéficires of mosquito nets
 


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