Africa records increase in use of treated mosquito nets

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At least 16 sub-Saharan African countries tripled their use of insecticide treated mosquito nets among children between 2000 and 2007, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

In a report, titled “Malaria and children”, UNICEF noted children’s coverage with treated mosquito nets had reached 50% in The Gambia and 40% in Sao Tome & Principe, Guinea Bissau and Togo.

About 18 million mosquito nets have been distributed in Ethiopia since the last household survey in 2005, the UNICEF report said, noting other African countries had also massively distributed the nets.

“The results of these efforts are expected to appear in the next series of data,” the UN agency said, outlining the important role played by international organisations in distributing treated mosquito nets in Africa.

UNICEF also lauded the role of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, which distributed some 18 million mosquito nets in 2006.

The report said the soaring treated mosquito net usage was made possible by the increase in their annual production.

“The annual production of treated nets even doubled from 30 million to 63 million and are quickly available,” it said.

UNICEF said the increasing usage of treated nets in sub-Saharan Africa was going side by side with a modification of national policies on antimalarial drugs.

“National policies are encouraging the use of Artemisin-based Combination Therapy (ACT), a more efficient new treatment against malaria,” the UNICEF report said, noting the use of the treated nets combined with the new antimalarial drug had caused a significant decline in malaria cases in Africa.

But Malaria remains the first cause of mortality in Africa, with over one million deaths annually.

The disease has also been blamed for an annual loss of some US$12 billion to the economies of African nations.

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