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Net giveaway saves lives, changes WHO policy

22 October 2007, 23:51

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This piece is an attachment to How Kenya doubled its health budget

Sometimes health policy can be turned into science, with advantage to all. The useage of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) to prevent malaria has increased rapidly in Kenya from 7% in 2004 to 67% in 2006, so “we aimed to assess the extent to which this investment has led to improvements in child survival” write the authors of a recent paper in The Lancet.

Their dramatic results have changed WHO policy: now WHO recommends mass distribution of long-lasting impregnated nets to everyone, rather than just targeting poor pregnant women and children.

In The Lancet study, in 3500 children in four districts of Kenya, “ITN use was associated with a 44% reduction in mortality. This level of protection corresponds to about seven deaths averted for every 1000 ITNs distributed” say the authors.

“This data from Kenya ends the debate about how to deliver long-lasting insecticidal nets”, said Arata Kochi, head of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme. “No longer should the safety and well-being of your family be based upon whether you are rich or poor. When insecticide treated mosquito nets are easily available for every person, young or old, malaria is reduced.”

READ ON:

The paper

WHO press release

Lancet editorial complaint about WHO’s early release

New WHO position paper on ITNs


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