Mosquito Nets – are we ready to restock?

The 2012 Millennium Development Goals annual report/update has been released. Progress for malaria has been noted, but below target. In summary the report notes that …

“The estimated incidence of malaria has decreased globally, by 17 per cent since 2000. Over the same period, malaria-specific mortality rates have decreased by 25 per cent. Reported malaria cases fell by more than 50 per cent between 2000 and 2010 in 43 of the 99 countries with ongoing malaria transmission.”

mdg-report-2012-net-progress-a.jpgWhile the overall tenor of the report veers toward the positive, the authors had to explain that, “Although these rates of decline were not sufficient to meet the internationally agreed targets for 2010 of a 50 per cent reduction, they nonetheless represent a major achievement.”  Ironically, the map at the right, taken from the report does not even include a shading for 80% and higher – the Roll Back Malaria target for 2012. Inadequate intervention coverage and the financial and health systems weaknesses contributed to the coverage gap, in spite of calls for universal coverage in 2009.

The big push toward universal coverage did result in more nets, but some countries are still in the process of trying to get the first round of mass distribution finished.  In light of Global Fund Round 11 cancellation and the world economic crisis, fears exist that replacement nets, likely needed by 2013, can be bought. The MDG report echos this concern: “There are worrisome signs, however, that momentum, impressive as it has been, is slowing, largely due to inadequate resources.”

Fortunately there is a bight light. Rwanda just announced that –

Over six million treated mosquito nets will be distributed to households in 2012 and 2013 and around 500,000 Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) will be given to pregnant women and children under five years in 2012, the National Malaria Control Program Director, Dr. Corine Karema, has said. “Currently we are in the phase of replacing the Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) distributed in 2010,” Dr Karema said, adding that families which didn’t receive them in 2010 will be assessed so that they can also get nets.

Not only does Rwanda’s effort represent replacement of the old nets, but also recognizes the need to provide nets in an ongoing manner during routine health services like antenatal care. Let’s hope that this sets a good example for other countries to make a commitment to find the funds – locally and/or internationally to ensure that the MDG for malaria morbidity and mortality reduction will not be sidetracked.

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