The international Red Cross said Friday it would distribute more than 2 million mosquito nets to Niger in an attempt to protect every child in the hunger-stricken country from malaria. The distribution of the nets, the largest ever campaign of its kind in Africa, will begin in December, the International Federation of the Red Cross said in a statement.
In a joint effort with Niger's government, the federation will provide nets to every household that takes part in the country's polio immunization campaign to vaccinate all children under 5, it said. More than half of all infant fatalities in Niger are from malaria.
"We estimate that distributing (the) mosquito nets in Niger will save the lives of 40,000 children," said Jean Roy, a senior health officer at the Geneva-based federation.
The campaign will cost US$13.3 million (Ђ10.9 million), and will be funded by the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Canadian International Development Agency, the Red Cross said.
Last month, the U.N. health agency sent 100,000 malaria treatments to Niger and warned that the disease's peak season could compound the humanitarian crisis in the country, reports the AP. I.L.