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Bed net usage increases, but 90 million African children still exposed to malaria
Date:11/18/2008

The use of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) to protect children from malaria has risen six-fold in the past seven years, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust. Despite this success, however, 90 million children still do not have access to this simple protective tool, and remain at risk from the life-threatening disease.

Malaria kills nearly a million people in Africa every year. For over 15 years it has been known that sleeping under a net treated with an insecticide can substantially reduce the chances of a young African child dying. When African heads of state met in 2000, the Abuja Declaration stated that they would work towards protecting 60% of their vulnerable populations with insecticide treated nets. Now, a study published online in the Lancet today highlights what has been achieved since this historic declaration.

Kenyan and British scientists have published data from 40 African countries which shows that at the time of the Abuja meeting in 2000 just over 3% of Africa's young children were protected by a treated mosquito net. Seven years later this increased to only 18.5%. In 2007 90 million children have not yet received this simple protective tool, and remain at risk from life-threatening malaria. Most of these children live in only seven African countries; one country in particular stands out a quarter of all African children living without nets are Nigerian.

The authors report that bed net use increases faster in countries that distribute them free of charge compared to countries that make people to pay for them. Usage rises to an average of 25% when they are given free, but is much lower at 4% when people have to pay for them.

The research was conducted by Dr Abdisalan Noor, from the Kenyan Medical Research Institute in Nairobi, who says: "Our analysis clearly shows that countries that provide insecticide treated mosquito nets free to their rural populations have achieved the highest lev
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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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