New research, has shown that the distribution of free Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) through campaigns has had a significant impact on ownership and use of ITNs in Kano, Northern Nigeria, which increased from 10 percent, to 70 percent following the campaign.
ITNs are a cost-effective method of prevention which can significantly reduce severe disease and mortality due to malaria, especially among children under five in endemic areas. However, ownership and use of these nets remains low in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Often net ownership is also inequitable among different socio-economic groups.
The research, published in the Malaria Journal, shows that the distribution campaigns in Kano reduced the ownership coverage gap by 75 percent among the different socio-economic groups, effectively reaching uniformity among them. Use of nets was also measured through individuals reporting on whether they had slept under an ITN the night before the survey. Results showed there was no significant difference reported between the different socio-economic groups.
Free distribution campaigns aim to reach universal coverage of ITNs, moving away from the model of only providing them for pregnant women and children. The Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) has a target of one net for every two people by 2015 and in Nigeria, the National Malaria Control Programme aimed to have distributed 63 million long lasting insecticide treated nets by the end of 2010 and at least 80 percent of these to have been put to use. The strategy of rapidly increasing the number of nets in the community through mass distribution is beneficial even to those not sleeping under a net as the numbers of mosquitoes also decrease as a direct result of the insecticide.
Kano in Northern Nigeria was the first state in the country to implement this new approach; several partners including DFID funded programme Support to the National Malaria Programme (SuNMaP), managed by Malaria Consortium, came together to distribute over four million nets in 2009. As part of the USAID-funded NetWorks programme, post-campaign surveys were conducted to inform policy on the scaling up of the campaign strategy based on finding from Kano. These activities have helped inform the research, which was co-authored by Dr Albert Killian, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at Malaria Consortium at the time. Read the research here.
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