When thinking of Malaria most people only think of Africa but the Asia Pacific Region has many Malaria Endemic Countries and Papua New Guinea
is one of them. In addition to the Malaria burden the country has a weak health system which sees one of the lowest numbers of doctors per 100
thousand persons in the whole world.
Papua New Guinea lies between longitudes 141 and 160 and latitudes 1 and 12. It forms the Eastern half of the Island of New Guinea, the world's second largest island. The western side, formerly Dutch New Guinea, is the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya. Papua New Guinea has a land area in excess of 460,000 square kilometres and its six million citizens speak more than 700 languages between them. Papua New Guinea includes the larger islands of New Britain, New Ireland and Bougainville. Australia lies to the south. The country is practically devoid of infrastructure and the task of getting some 2.5 million Mosquito Nets to the people is a formidable one. The government of Papua New Guinea has recognised that it does not have the capacity to provide a sustainable Long Lasting Mosquito Net programme and in 1997 asked the Rotary Club of Port Moresby to take ownership of the programme.
There are 89 districts in Papua New Guinea and Rotary Against Malaria (RAM) has broken these into some 8 or 9 thousand villages. It is RAM's intention to get Rotary Clubs from around the world to adopt at least one of these villages. This would see a Rotary Club adopting a village of say 500 people. A village this size would need around 200 nets (2.5 persons per net) to ensure every one in the village had an opportunity to sleep under a Long Lasting Insecticidal Net (LLIN). At an average cost of 17 Kina (Keena - Currency of Papua New Guinea) per net, there would be a requirement for a Rotary Club to Donate around K3,400.00. (US$1.200.00 or A$1460.00). The sponsored nets would be delivered to the village. It was the original intention of RAM to charge the villagers for the nets. Not in the form of money but in many forms of payment. Perhaps a clean village environment, perhaps ensuring that every child in the village is vaccinated, perhaps helping to keep the aid post area clean and free of rubbish. RAM is now using the new Long Lasting Insecticidal Mosquito Nets (LLIN's) on the adopt a village programme. This is a net that can be washed up to 21 times without the loss of efficacy. In Papua New Guinea we encourage no more than 3 washes per year. The use of this net means that district patrols no longer have to return to villages to carry out a retreatment programme each year. The nets can be left in the village for five years before the nets need to be replaced.
At the moment RAM Papua New Guinea is finding clubs to adopt villages in the Namatanai Fly District, in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea. Out of a total of 241 villages there are 57 left and I have attached them to this proposal. When we have found clubs to adopt all of these villages we will be moving South, towards the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Malaria is a huge problem in this area and a list of available villages are present on the website. We will once again be looking for clubs to adopt villages in these new districts of Papua New Guinea.
Should nets need to be replaced before the five years is up, then new nets will be available at cost in trade stores around the country. At the end of the five year period the club that has adopted a particular village will be approached to fund the new nets.
We would hope that clubs looking for a very worthwhile International Project would adopt a village every year. What could be easier than going on our website, looking for a suitable village to adopt and then contacting us. A club could easily have five adopted villages which they support with a single payment every year
Some clubs may want to enter into communication with a village that they have adopted. This can be done if it is deemed really necessary. Most villages are only accessible by either long hikes or boat rides and sometimes take several days to reach a village. If a club wishes to contact a village then contact RAM Papua New Guinea (Ron Seddon) and he will attempt to get a contact and address for you.
It is hoped that clubs who adopt villages can actually take the concept further by perhaps helping the village to get water tanks so that they have fresh water, perhaps the local community school needs school desks or school books. The possibilities are limitless.
A lot of clubs ask if the adoption of a village is really a worthwhile project. The answer to that is a resounding yes. An example being, over the last two years, RAM has supplied treated bed nets to the Kikori district of the Gulf Province and in addition to the huge drop in Malaria, the local hospital is reporting many "Side Effects". These are: