A new generation of mosquito nets will soon be distributed in Zambia. Global aid agency World Vision and its partner Vestergaard Frandsen, a social enterprise specializing in the production of disease control textiles, have joined efforts in a three-year study on the acceptability and durability of such nets.
Malaria stands as one of the leading causes of death in sub-Saharan Africa and around half of the world's population remain under the threat of contracting the disease. In order to tackle this fundamental issue for African countries, mosquito nets have always been considered as one of the most efficient solutions.
During the program, 300,000 of the so-called PermaNet 3.0 will be distributed. They are anti-malaria bed nets that are supposed to be more durable, thanks to a strengthened resistance of the insecticide on the tissue.
"The female Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit malaria feed almost exclusively at night," infectious disease specialist Dr. Mark Maire explained. "As they attempt to reach someone sleeping under a treated bed net, the mosquitoes are exposed to the insecticide, which will kill them."
Maire continued: "If enough households in a community are sleeping under long-lasting insecticidal nets, it will knock down the area's mosquito population and protect the whole community."
The selection of Zambia for this program is not a random choice. The country has been at the forefront of the fight against malaria in Africa in recent years. Between 2006 and 2009, Zambia managed to reduce malaria deaths by 66 percent. In this achievement, mosquito nets played a great part as 3.6 million were distributed during the period. Its efforts were promoted as model for other countries to follow.
World Vision wants to pursue this movement forward.
"Working alongside other partners in affected communities, [we] will contribute to realizing the goal of reducing malaria infections by 75 percent and nearly eliminating child death from malaria by 2015." Maire said.
Malaria is a daily burden for the African economic activity. It is a chronic and everlasting disease, and its treatment consumes time and money for African households. If the experience turns out to be successful, its scaling-up could mean a great step forward for the socio-economic situation in Africa.