In EDN issue 68, we published an article on treating bednets with insecticide for the prevention of malaria. This is a technique which is currently being widely promoted throughout the developing world. It seems very effective when compared to other low-cost methods of malaria prevention. Since publishing that issue, we received a request for sources of the insecticides used in the process. We found a useful web site which gives sources for purchasing nets and appropriate insecticides in sub-Saharan Africa. If you have access to the World Wide Web, you can read this document at (http://www.synapse.net/~path/ direct.html). If you do not have access to the web and live or work in sub-Saharan Africa, you may write to ECHO for a printed copy of the list.
An April 2001 IDRC report (www.idrc.ca/reports/read_ articleenglish.cfm? articlenum=920) discusses the growing use of insecticide-treated nets in Tanzania. Research and development “has shown that nets impregnated with pyrethroid insecticide are effective at preventing malaria.” A book called Net Gain, published by IDRC and the World Health Organization, claims that the use of insecticide-treated nets could reduce child mortality by 17 to 63 percent.
Clearly the nets will be effective only if they are used. IDRC’s report indicates that the use of insecticide-treated nets is increasing. Three factories in Tanzania currently produce mosquito nets; one of these, in the northern city of Arusha, is now among the largest net manufacturers in the world. In 1999, the three factories together sold 1.5 million nets. Largely as a result of social marketing, costs for the nets have fallen from US$10 (for a large family net) to US$4. Single nets sell for as low as $2.