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Social and cultural factors affecting rates of regular retreatment of mosquito nets with insecticide in Bagamoyo District, Tanzania

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Insecticide-treated mosquito nets have an impact on mortality and morbidity in young children under controlled conditions. When integrated into larger control programs, there is the danger that rates of regular retreatment of the nets with insecticide will drop, greatly limiting their effectiveness as a public health intervention. In Bagamoyo District, Tanzania, rates of retreatment dropped significantly when payment for the insecticide was introduced. A series of neighbourhood (hamlet) meetings were held in all study villages to discuss people's concerns about the insecticide and ways to increase rates of retreatment. Although changes were made in the procedure for retreatment, rates of retreatment remained lower than expected and showed marked variation within as well as between villages. We then conducted unstructured key informant interviews as well as informal discussions in a village with strong variation between different sectors of the village in rates of retreatment. While logistical problems were most frequently cited as reasons not to bring nets for retreatment, political and social divisions within the community provided a better explanation. This is borne out by the low response to rearrangements in logistics which made retreating the nets significantly easier for households, and the higher response when changes were made in the channels of communication as well as the logistic features. It is clearly more difficult for villagers to appreciate the benefits of the insecticide than those of the nets. Great emphasis needs to be placed on the insecticide and its beneficial effects from the outset for any large-scale programme to be sustainable.

Keywords: Tanzania; insecticide-treated bednets; re-treatment

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of International Health, The Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, USA, 2: Bagamoyo Bed Net Project, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 3: Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, USA

Publication date: 1997-08-01

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