WILLS POINT, TX – According to the CDC, more than 400,000 people die every year of malaria or other vector-borne diseases. That is one person every 90 seconds. Most of them are children under the age of five.
This child in our image will likely not become one of those statistics because she is protected by a net that will keep parasite-carrying mosquitoes away from her.
You would think that with the myriads of technical advances that have emerged in the 21st century alone, that someone somewhere would have developed a better way to prevent malaria. They have not.
In fact, the concept of mosquito netting that was introduced in the late 1800s is still considered “the only viable option to prevent malaria transmission” by the World Health Organization. It hardly seems realistic, but it is true.
It is almost absurd that something as simple as a closely woven net is the best way to prevent one of the deadliest diseases on the planet.
The Against Malaria Foundation agrees that,
The most effective means of preventing malaria is sleeping under a mosquito net, specifically, a long-lasting insecticide-treated net.
Nets come in three basic types, insecticide-treated (ITN), long-lasting insecticide-treated (LLIN), and untreated.
Today’s polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene nets have all proven to be effective in the fight against malaria. Insecticide-treated nets not only keep the mosquitos at bay, but they also kill the mosquito population that has come into contact with the insecticide.
Academia sometimes wanders from the practical to the sublime, discussing whether nets are better if they are treated or untreated. I suggest that the “elite scholars” among us ask a few African children and their parents which they prefer: having nets for their families versus not having nets at all.
The Terminix website describes it this way:
Every single mosquito net helps to lower the number of mosquito bites.
As mosquito net distribution increases, the cases of malaria should decrease. And therein lies what may be the biggest obstacle to preventing malaria – the sustainable delivery of mosquito nets to the millions of people confined to the malaria-prone regions of Africa and Asia. Those people live in villages that are not only remote but also difficult to reach with conventional transportation.
Even if it were easier to reach the more vulnerable, timely redistribution must be achievable. Like everything else, mosquito nets wear out. Some may last only a few months. ITNs and LLINs can last three to four years, but they need to be retreated to keep effectively reducing the mosquito population.
Most people in malaria-ridden regions can’t afford to buy mosquito nets. Charitable organizations are their only source for nets. Fortunately, there are some organizations that are making considerable headway. The Against Malaria Foundation, for instance, worked in collaboration with the Uganda Ministry of Health to fund 11.6 million mosquito nets during 2020.
AMF provides the funds. The Health Ministry handles procurement, storage, and distribution. Through their combined efforts, 50% of Ugandans are now protected with LLINs. Their work continues under a new government program to provide universal LLINs across the country.
A mosquito net is a gift that millions of people need. It is also a gift that millions of others can give.
At least two children died for lack of a mosquito net while you were reading this article.
- Against Malaria Foundation, Why nets?
- Terminix, All About Mosquito Nets
- UNICEF, Ten facts about mosquito nets you didn’t know
- Nothing But Nets, Why nets?
- Chimp Reports, Mosquito Net Donor: NMS Good Distribution Practice a Model for Other Countries
- National Geographic, Are Mosquitoes Outsmarting Mosquito Nets?
- Science News, Mosquito nets: Are they catching more fishes than insects?