Now, as 2008 begins, we are seeing the last of the distribution data coming in from Mali’s furthest communities. The results are as impressive as the planning for the campaign has been. The Ministry of Health set a number of objectives to be reached during the campaign, and they have managed to not only reach but also exceed the goals they set for themselves and the country. Given the logistical and communication hurdles to be overcome in Mali, I think it is amazing that the data coming in are more or less complete within ten days of the campaign’s end date.
As I write, the latest numbers that have come from the Ministry of Health show over 95% coverage of children under five for all of the campaign interventions. What this translates to is that more than 2.8 million children in Mali have been vaccinated, dewormed, provided with vitamin A and are now sleeping under mosquito nets to protect them from malaria.
For those of us with roots in the western world, a mosquito net may not seem like an appropriate gift for our small children. For African children, it is a life-saving and valuable gift. It is also a gift that will keep on giving: for the next three years, the mosquito nets that the children in Mali received will continue to protect them from the bites of mosquitoes that transmit malaria.
So, for me, looking back at 2007, I feel happy to have been able to work in a country that has worked extremely hard to achieve an objective- that in 2008, fewer children under five will succumb to common, yet preventable, illnesses that are prominent in Africa. My congratulations go out to the Mali Ministry of Health and all of the partners who worked so hard to provide a brighter future for Malian children in 2008.
And looking ahead for 2008? Well, I hope that all of the people who have been instrumental in making events like the Mali campaign happen will continue to work together to ensure a brighter future for Africa’s children. Hopefully by the end of 2008, we will have increased our impact on child survival in Africa. Maybe by 2010, we’ll be running out of work. Most people would consider that a bad thing, but I think that means a job well done by everyone.