Save Africa from Malaria Infection engages university students

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By: Abdul Razack Gbla

In a pioneering effort to combat malaria, the Save Africa from Malaria Infection (SAFMI) Foundation has initiated an engagement program targeting university students in Sierra Leone.

The initiative, spearheaded by Mr. Artem Volchenko the Executive Director of SAFMI, began at the University of Sierra Leone -IPAM (Institute of Public Administration and Management) with the goal of raising awareness and promoting innovative solutions to reduce malaria infections.

The SAFMI Foundation’s primary objective is to significantly reduce the incidence of malaria in Sierra Leone and expand these efforts to neighboring countries, including Liberia, Guinea, and The Gambia. This is to be achieved through the establishment and maintenance of mosquito-control fish aquariums in strategic locations, educating local communities on the benefits of mosquitofish, and collaborating with government agencies, international organizations, and local stakeholders.

He will be introducing the Golden Fish Project. Malaria continues to be a major public health challenge in Sierra Leone, affecting millions annually. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2022 alone, Sierra Leone reported over four million cases of malaria and more than 10,000 deaths. Children under five and pregnant women are the most vulnerable populations.

Neighboring countries also face severe malaria threats. In 2022, Liberia reported approximately 2.6 million cases with over 5,000 deaths, Guinea had around three million cases and nearly 7,000 deaths, and The Gambia saw about 500,000 cases with 1,000 deaths.

Central to SAFMI’s strategy is the introduction of Gambusia affinis, commonly known as the mosquitofish, which is known for its effectiveness in biological mosquito control. These fish consume up to 300 mosquito larvae in just five minutes, making them a potent natural solution to mosquito-borne diseases like malaria.

Artem Volchenko revealed that the use of Gambusia in malaria control has a proven track record cited  Russia, after being introduced in 1925, these fish have helped eliminate malaria in certain regions, leading to the erection of monuments in their honor.

The Excutive Director furthered that They have been successfully introduced in 60 countries, including various parts of Southern Europe, Germany, Thailand, and the United States.

It is an environmentally friendly solution.

The advantages of using Gambusia in malaria control are numerous. These fish are self-perpetuating, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. Unlike chemical controls, which can be expensive and harmful to the environment, Gambusia naturally thrives in shallow waters where mosquito larvae breed, making them an ideal solution for sustainable mosquito control.

SAFMI is urging the government of Sierra Leone, through the Ministry of Health, to embrace this innovative approach. The foundation emphasises the need for trials and subsequent widespread adoption of Gambusia in water bodies across the country. The successful introduction of these fish could significantly reduce malaria cases and save countless lives.

The engagement of university students is a crucial step in ensuring the sustainability of this initiative. By educating the next generation of leaders and health professionals, SAFMI aims to build a deep understanding of and commitment to innovative, sustainable solutions for malaria control.

The fight against malaria in Sierra Leone and neighboring countries is far from over. However, with innovative approaches like the Golden Fish Project, there is hope for a significant reduction in malaria cases. The SAFMI Foundation’s engagement with university students marks the beginning of a new chapter in this fight, one that will bring a healthier future for millions in Sierra Leone and beyond.

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