health history in Togo
The Togo Red Cross Society, through its network of 7,400
volunteers, was a key player in an integrated national health
campaign to provide the country’s 900,000 children under
the age of 5 with protection from four serious diseases.
Working in 12 districts, Red Cross volunteers did door-to-door
and community social mobilization campaigns, informing people
about the importance of protecting their children, as well
as the location of the vaccination and distribution centres.
On vaccination day, a Ministry of Health worker gave each
child an oral vaccine against polio and a de-worming tablet
called Mebendazole, together with an injection of a measles
vaccine. Finally, each child received an insecticide-treated
bed net (ITN).
Never before have so many public health initiatives been
integrated on such a scale. Of particular importance is the
unprecedented distribution of 900,000 ITNs — one for
every child under 5, who by simply sleeping under one will
be protected from malaria.
Malaria kills about a million children in sub-Saharan Africa
each year and costs African countries US$ 12 billion to treat.
In many of the countries whose health-care systems are already
struggling, malaria constitutes a major burden sapping limited
In Togo, about 60 per cent of hospital admissions are due
to malaria and over 80 per cent of the cases are young children.
The success of the campaign will mean that in future the
paediatric hospital wards will be far less burdened by cases
of malaria and measles. More beds will be available to address
other major health issues facing Togo such as tuberculosis
In addition, volunteers spoke with individual community leaders
in an effort to get them on board.
Over the next few months, an extensive follow-up —
measuring coverage, its impact on disease, cost effectiveness
and the impact of the social mobilization campaign —
will be done.
Togo Red Cross volunteers will be visiting every home on
a monthly basis to make the evaluation and advise families
on the proper use of the bed net. In those places where there
is new person at risk, such as a pregnant woman, newborn child
or a new immigrant with children, Red Cross volunteers will
work to help them get vaccinations and a free bed net.
Next year a similar campaign is envisioned in Equatorial
Guinea, Niger and areas of southern Chad at risk of malaria.