24 January 2006
Members of Soroptimist International are participating in a worldwide effort to prevent malaria in pregnant women and children in the rural community of Zé in Benin, Africa. “Soroptimists Roll Back Malaria” is a project of the Soroptimist International and the Roll Back Malaria Department of the World Health Organization (WHO). The project aims to raise enough funds to provide insecticide-treated mosquito nets to every pregnant woman and families with children under the age of five in Zé.
“Malaria kills more people in Africa than HIV or AIDS,” stated Soroptimist International President Lynn Dunning. “In fact, an estimated 10,000 pregnant women and 200,000 infants die each year as a result of malaria during pregnancy. And every 30 seconds, a child under the age of five dies from this horrible—and completely preventable—disease. Our members want to do something about that in this particular community.”
Funds raised by Soroptimist International will go towards the purchase of insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Research studies have shown that sleeping under such nets provides highly effective prevention against malaria. The nets cost just US$ 5.00 and last four to five years, but they are beyond the reach of most people living in rural Benin.
Soroptimist International is a worldwide organization for women in management and the professions, working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women. It is comprised of more than 90,000 members in 123 countries around the world. Volunteers in local Soroptimist clubs are utilizing a variety of strategies to raise funds for this important project, including making “bed net bookmarks” for sale, holding local community seminars about malaria and its effect on women and girls, and making posters that publicize the project in community businesses and public buildings.