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Use Of Mosquito Nets Still Below Average 

By Leocadia Bongben — The use of mosquito nets has tripled in Cameroon but only about 8.4 million people in a population of 20 million sleep under the nets, a post-campaign study on the utilisation of the long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets has revealed. The National Institute of Statistics revealed the results of the study for the period 2011-2013 last week.

Utilisation of mosquito nets by the population tripled from 14 to 42 percent while the utilisation of these nets doubled in vulnerable groups, from 19 to 46 percent in children of less than five years, and 17 to 41 per cent for pregnant women, according to statistics. The study notes that weak treatment for malaria within 24 hours remains preoccupying, coupled with the fact that quinine is still used for treatment in children below five years in the Centre and South Regions.

About 8 million treated mosquito nets were distributed in 2011 under Round 9 funding of the Global Fund for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, dubbed Scaling Up Malaria for Impact in Cameroon, 2011-2013. The distribution campaign was marred by dysfunctions as some homes did not get the tickets that enabled households to get the nets. It should be noted that before distribution, there was a census where households were counted and given tickets, and those without the tickets were not to get the nets.

But, the study revealed that 29 percent of the households were not counted because they were absent from home, while some lost their tickets. About 50 percent of the population in the towns of Yaounde and Douala did not receive the nets. Yet, for the households that received the nets, seven percent do not use them, due to inability to hang them above the beds.

The mosquito nets distributed in 2011 would expire in 2014 and the National Institute of Statistics urges the Ministry of Public Health and the National Malaria Control Programme to mobilise funds for another distribution of mosquito nets by that year. Also, increased sensitisation would be required for more households to sleep under the nets and ameliorate the upcoming distribution to minimise dysfunctions noticed with the last distribution.

The Global Fund has already committed 10 million bed nets for the fight against malaria in 2014. The Minster of Public Health, Andre Mama Fouda, said the result of the study was satisfactory, as 66 percent of families have bed nets, with 42 percent utilisation. He urged families to sleep under mosquito bed nets to get protection from mosquitos, especially children under five years and pregnant women.

Statistics from the National Malaria Control Programme indicate that in Cameroon, malaria is the cause of 18 percent of deaths registered in hospitals in children less than five, and accounts for 41 percent consultations and 55 percent hospitalisations. Forest zones in Cameroon; the South, Centre, East and Southwest Regions have a high malaria prevalence average of 30 percent.

First published in The Post print edition no 01470

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