Taking stock after malaria day – net usage

The US President’s Malaria Initiative has certainly been able to work with partners, such as national malaria control agencies with GFATM grants, to boost coverage with major malaria interventions. A success story from Mali was posted on the PMI website for World Malaria Day as an example. The story reports –

itns-in-mali.jpgAccording to survey results announced by the Malian Ministry of Health, 88 percent of households in Mali and 80 percent of children received an LLIN during the campaign. Usage of LLINs by vulnerable groups is also high. Some 63 percent of households surveyed declared using LLINs the previous night. Some 51 percent of all under fives included in the survey were reported to have slept under an LLIN the previous night. This is a significant increase from 27 percent of children under five reported to have slept under a treated net from the 2006 DHS survey in Mali.

This is certainly a major logistical effort and bodes well for promises by the UN to achieve 100% coverage by 2010, but we are still concerned that owning a net does not always mean using it. Stories abound about ‘alternative’ net uses ranging from fishing to wedding gowns to keeping in a trunk as dowry. None of these protect people who need to be free of malaria.

As we have advocated, there needs to be a strong health education component using local/community people who speak in a language people understand and can be on the spot to encourage net use. Mass media may reinforce use, but the personal touch is needed to ensure use.

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