ITN coverage – 2005 target unmet in 2006

The buzz about the 2008 World Malaria Report (WMR) has been largely centered around the recalculation and subsequent reduction of annual morbidity estimates. Some good news identified 10 countries including some in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern area that are close to elimination.

At the same time concerns about coverage have surfaced. Leadership News of Abuja explained that, “The report, however, noted that much more work remained to be done. ‘In Africa , only 125 million people were protected by bed nets in 2007, while 650 million are at risk.'”  One of the challenges with the figures is that the 2008 WMR draws primarily on 2006 data.

That being the case, it is only fair to judge progress toward the Abuja goals and indicators in the WMR based on the 2005 target of 60% coverage.  MICS or DHS data from 2006 were available in the WMR Annex concerning whether children under five years of age slept under an insecticide treated net for 17 African countries.

percent-itn-2.jpgThe attached chart gives a sobering perspective on the Abuja targets.  In 2006 reports none of the 17 countries had achieved the desired 60% of these children having slept under an ITN the night before the survey.  The figures ranged from a low of 6% in Cote d’Ivoire to 49% in the Gambia.  Half of these countries achieved 20% or less.

Great strides continue to be made in distribution and use of ITNs and other malaria interventions, but clearly the Abuja targets served more as an inspiration than a realistic goal.  The Global Fund in June of this year reported a doubling in the numbers of ITNs distributed. The United Nations has called for universal coverage.  The pressure mounts.  Will donors and endemic-country governments be up to the task of reaching 80% coverage by 2010 – which is a quadrupling of the 2006 figures in Africa?

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