Posted on November 11th, 2008
Faith Patrick, program manager for the Mennonite Economic Development Associates’ (MEDA) Hati Punguzo project in Tanzania
While malaria is a devastating disease in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, it can be successfully prevented and contained, according to Faith Patrick, program manager for the Mennonite Economic Development Associates’ (MEDA) Hati Punguzo project in Tanzania.
Patrick visited Eastern Mennonite University on Nov. 10, 2008 and spoke to Professor Chris Gingrich‘s economic development class.
The term Hati Punguzo, which means “discount voucher” in Swahili, describes an innovative public-private partnership to distribute insecticide treated bednets (ITNs) to infants and young children who are the most vulnerable to death from malaria. The ITNs act as a protective barrier between the user and night-biting mosquitoes that carry the disease.
At the core of Hati Punguzo is a discount voucher for ITNs that the Tanzanian government provides free of cost to pregnant women during their antenatal exam and to infants during their nine-month measles vaccination. The voucher covers approximately 80 percent of the ITN purchase cost.
Local ITN retailers accept the voucher plus the 20 percent copayment (usually between 1 and 2 US$) and provide ITNs to willing buyers. Patrick explains that, “Roughly 75 percent of all voucher recipients buy an ITN, which has supplied over 5 million ITNs country-wide.”
She adds, “Retailers can also sell ITNs at the full commercial price to other people who have seen the health benefits of ITN use. Perhaps most important, use of the private sector to distribute ITNs in Tanzania shows strong potential for long term sustainability of ITN supplies, unlike other countries that freely provide ITNs using government or non-government agencies.”
Patrick’s visit to EMU was cosponsored by MEDA and the EMU Department of Business and Economics.