“My Net Is My Friend” – the Story of a Ghanaian Primary School Child

Apr 2017
“Mom and I used to stay up all night chasing away mosquitoes … but it seemed like whatever we did, my mom and I would get sick. We always lived in fear of malaria.”
Festus Akun laying under a mosquito net. Photo credit: Sarah Hoibak, VectorWorks, Courtesy of Photoshare.

Festus Akun is a 9-year-old student at Amanhyia Roman Catholic Primary School in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Like many other children in Ghana, Festus now rests safe and sound, protected from mosquitoes because he sleeps under an insecticide-treated mosquito net.

However, his sleep was not always so peaceful. Festus recounts: “Mom and I used to stay up all night chasing away mosquitoes … but it seemed like whatever we did, my mom and I would get sick. We always lived in fear of malaria.” His mother lamented that her son often missed school as a result of malaria.

Since 2013, Ghana’s National Malaria Control Program, in partnership with PMI, has distributed ITNs to students in primary school classes 2 and 6. Festus is among the more than 3 million children in public and private primary schools who have benefited from the free ITN distribution program since its inception.

Through the accompanying malaria prevention education program, young Festus and millions of Ghanaian school children and their families have learned about proper use and care of ITNs. SBCC messages teach about the importance of sleeping under ITNs all night every night, how to care for ITNs to prevent damage, and the importance of not washing ITNs in streams and ponds to prevent pollution of the environment.

In May 2016, Festus’s teacher gave him his own mosquito net. After school, he quickly gave it to his mother to air out and hang for him. After 2 months of sleeping under the ITN, Festus enthusiastically explains: “My net is my friend. I wake up every morning feeling very healthy without any experience of a bite from a mosquito and go to school to learn and play, feeling very well and active. Thanks to the people who gave us the mosquito nets.”

Festus has since successfully completed his primary class 2 and advanced to primary class 3. He and his mother are looking forward to a bright future without malaria.

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