Hurray! I’ve posted the results of several recent studies showing that bed nets can be extremely effective at preventing malaria in the past. The WHO has now publicly stated a policy of free distribution:

“NAIROBI, Aug. 16 — Long-lasting, insecticide-treated mosquito nets should be distributed free, rapidly and widely in malaria-endemic areas, World Health Organization officials said here Thursday, setting new guidelines for fighting the mosquito-borne disease around the globe.

For years, a policy debate has raged not so much over the effectiveness of mosquito nets in preventing the disease, but over how best to distribute them….The WHO announcement was paired with what Kochi called “impressive” findings by Kenyan health authorities that widespread, free distribution of mosquito nets can effectively save children’s lives.”

(The actual full WHO position statement is available here. )

The Kenyan program distributed nets free to all, so that income wasn’t a factor in being protected. Their results are published in the PLoS Medicine journal:

“With each subsequent survey socioeconomic inequity in net coverage sequentially decreased….The free mass distribution method achieved highest coverage among the poorest children, the highly subsidised clinic nets programme was marginally in favour of the least poor, and the commercial social marketing favoured the least poor.”

Deltoid makes the excellent point that the NYTimes didn’t cover this at all; instead it ran an editorial from the author of the pro-DDT study I critiqued as flawed last week. Sigh.

That paper has been promoted heavily by the Astroturf group, Africans Fighting Malaria. DDT has a major press staff. Who’s going to advocate for all the better and safer ways to control malaria, and ultimately prevent it long term?

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!