Preventing Malaria: Because a Shot can Tear the Net

Using nets as the primary source of malaria prevention has gained tremendous momentum and currency in various parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. You might have seen such a poster:


And/or you may have chanced upon an advert like this one:

Then there are NGOs including this:

The overriding logic is simple: if people use nets when indoors (or at least while sleeping), then they are safe from those marauding mosquitos.

While I am not a medical expert I wonder how this form of reasoning plays out when people are not in their nets. Mosquitos generally start operations in the late evening and most of the time people tend to be outside by then. In such cases nets can’t protect them. Mosquitos breed in stagnant water; this is something we learn as early as during Primary school. And our gutters have so much going on in them that these insects (and more) find them more accommodating than five star hotels.  By the time people access the safety of their treated nets then, chances are they have already been bitten a few times.

We should therefore focus (at the very least) a significant portion of the funds apportioned to netting on cleaning gutters and allowing them to facilitate waste disposal. Doing this will eventually prevent other killer diseases such as cholera and typhoid. There are also types of food that build the immune system to fight against malaria parasites. Like I said I don’t know much about medicine so I won’t explore that option. But do eat well :).

So the netting scheme is all well and good, but I think there are a few flaws in this reasoning, especially because (at least from my perspective) there is an undue bias toward this form of prevention.

In conclusion, I am not saying that it is wrong to promote nets. I also don’t mean to imply that there is a single simple solution to malaria prevention. However, nets appear to solve only a small portion of the problem. These stakeholders would probably make a much more lasting impact if they considered a multi-faceted approach to dealing with the epidemic.

After all, even in football a very strong shot can tear the net.


About Kwabena

Career Student
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5 Responses to Preventing Malaria: Because a Shot can Tear the Net

  1. DrS says:

    Insecticide treated nets are the best bet to reduce malaria in our context. Its true about sanitation and so forth but scientifically speaking that’s the most effective way to reduce transmission. ITNs kill mosquitoes on contact and repel them as well. In most endemic areas, these mosquitoes will thrive whether or not u clean your entire area. We have the perfect cocktail of conditions for malaria even before dirty surroundings came along. This doesn’t mean cleaning won’t help but its not the most effective means.

    • Kwabena says:

      Thanks Doc for the explanations. My point though, as Kofi states is that we need a multifarious approach and not focus so much on the nets. I appreciate the medical input though

  2. kofilarbi30 says:

    thanks DrS for your expose but we Africans usually get stuck on just one option for too long and it sticks. we should explore other options too. after all, why are we all getting educated if we won’t use it to better our communities..
    Mfum’s shot tore the net during a Black Stars Africa Cup of Nations match i think. or was it a Kotoko match. mind you, the net was new..
    that one sef!
    thanks KasaKOA!

  3. awura abena says:

    Can’t help but nod my head in agreement. Another good piece 🙂

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