News: PRT delivers malaria supplies to province
Story by Capt. Mary Danner-Jones
By Air Force Capt. Mary Danner-Jones
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Provincial Reconstruction Team for eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province turned over a malaria program and equipment valued at $250,000 to the Nangarhar Ministry of Public Health June 15.
The goal of the program is a sustainable malaria plan in Nangarhar province that will become a pilot program for other provinces throughout Afghanistan, said Air Force 1st Lt Jason Baker, Nangarhar PRT senior medical officer.
The malaria program consists of two elements: education and equipment. The design of the curriculum is to teach Afghans the fundamentals of malaria control, according to Lt. Baker. This included finding mosquito habitats and conditions favorable for mosquitoes, identifying mosquito species more likely to transmit the disease, changing the environment so it doesn’t attract mosquitoes and conducting basic pest control.
Some of the equipment provided to the Ministry of Public Health included backpack hand and motorized sprayers, insecticide, light traps, and mosquito dissecting equipment for species identification. They also provided training on how to use the equipment.
With the help of the Nangarhar PRT, the program was designed to be run by Afghans for Afghans. The agreement was for the Ministry of Public Health to provide Afghan professionals who would receive the malaria equipment training and train other Afghans, ultimately making it a self-sufficient program for Afghanistan, Baker said.
The program, which has been three years in the making, was the result of the Commanders’ Emergency Response Program. The CERP funding allowed the PRT to purchase equipment through a local contractor and to fund a military entomologist to conduct the training. The act of turning over the equipment completed the program for the PRT.
“It’s now up to the Afghans to use this to cultivate a program that will be sustainable. They have the training and expertise,” Baker said. The PRT will provide oversight and assistance when called upon, he added.
“The malaria program is one of our big achievements,” said Dr. Ajmal Pardis, provincial director of public health. The program will help a great number of people and will be good for Jalalabad, Nangarhar and Afghanistan, he added.
Malaria is still one of the leading causes of illness and death in Afghanistan. The program aids in reducing the mosquito population and controlling malaria, which is very helpful to the Afghan people, Baker said.