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Misusing Mosquito Nets Threatens Fight Against Malaria In Malawi

Photo taken on Nov. 20, 2020, shows a mosquito net was used as a curtain for an outdoor bathroom in Blantyre, Malawi. (Xinhua/Joseph Mizere)

Walking across some areas in Blantyre, one would notice how treated mosquito nets are being misused in many households. People are using mosquito nets to cover vegetable gardens, covering outdoor bathrooms, just to mention but a few.

According to Samuel Kanjiwa, a farmer in Blantyre rural, mosquito nets provide readily available material that protects his crops from insects and chicken. Furthermore, people in the area use nets for fishing in dams.

In an interview with Xinhua, Kanjiwa said that most households in the area can not afford to buy protective material for their gardens hence the use of nets which they often receive for free at the hospital.

This has become one of the greatest concerns among health experts in Malawi citing that the misuse of the treated nets could further spread malaria in communities.

The Blantyre District Health Office said it gives treated mosquito nets to pregnant women and to children under five years. The office also usually conducts mass distribution exercises in the district to ensure that every household is protected from malaria all year round.

According to Blantyre district health promotion officer, Chrissie Banda, efforts are being made in the district to ensure that people are using the nets properly. According to her, the misuse of nets has been rooted in several misconceptions and beliefs towards sleeping in nets.

“It is very sad to note that people are still misusing the nets in their communities, for some time now, we have been working hand in hand with communities to ensure that the trend is going down,” she said.

“To reverse the situation, we are working hand in hand with local chiefs in the community to monitor if people are using the nets properly. This involves educating and disciplining people who are involved in the malpractice.

“Furthermore, we have health surveillance officers who move door to door in trying to educate the people on the benefits of using the treated nets accordingly. This is one of the important approaches to curb the situation because people get to have meaningful conversations with health officers,” she said.

Malaria remains one of the major killer diseases in Malawi. Several studies conducted in Malawi have also shown that poverty is one of the key factors contributing to the misuse of nets in the country. Meanwhile, government and non-governmental organizations are embarking on efforts to reverse the trend.

Written by PH

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