If you walk through some areas in Blantyre, you will notice how treated mosquito nets are abused in many households. People use mosquito nets to cover outdoor kitchen gardens and bathrooms, to name a few.
According to Samuel Kanjiwa, a farmer in rural Blantyre, mosquito nets provide readily available material that protects his crops from insects and chickens. In addition, people in the region use nets for fishing in dams.
In an interview with Xinhua, Kanjiwa said that most households in the area cannot afford to buy protective materials for their gardens, which is why they use nets, which are often given to hospitals for free.
This has become one of the top concerns of health professionals in Malawi as misuse of the treated nets could spread malaria further in communities.
The Blantyre District Health Department said it was giving treated mosquito nets to pregnant women and children under the age of five. The office also usually conducts mass redistribution drills in the district to ensure that every household is protected from malaria year round.
Blantyre district health promotion officer Chrissie Banda said efforts are being made in the district to ensure that people are using the nets properly. According to her, net abuse stems from multiple misconceptions and beliefs about sleeping on nets.
“It is very sad to see that people are still abusing the networks in their communities. We have been working hand in hand with the communities for some time now to make sure the trend subsides,” she said.
“To reverse the situation, we are working hand in hand with local leaders in the community to monitor that people are using the nets properly. This includes educating and disciplining those involved in the wrongdoing.
“In addition, we have door-to-door health monitors to educate people about the benefits of using the nets being treated appropriately. This is one of the important approaches to contain the situation as people can have meaningful conversations with health officials, ” She said.
Malaria remains one of the major fatal diseases in Malawi. Several studies conducted in Malawi have also shown that poverty is one of the key drivers of network abuse in the country. Meanwhile, government and non-governmental organizations are trying to reverse the trend.