Sleeping safely under bednets
How a DFID funded project in Kenya is protecting millions of people from malaria
“My son has had malaria 3 times so far. But now our whole family sleeps under treated mosquito nets that I got from the health centre when I was pregnant. The mosquitoes don’t bite the kids, so I don’t worry anymore.”
Mother of 2 Evelyn Anyango lives in Kenya’s Nyanza province, which is located on the banks of Lake Victoria. The lake provides the perfect habitat for malaria transmitting mosquitoes to breed, and poor drainage and sanitation make it even harder to control the disease.
Malaria is the country’s biggest killer. Seventy percent of the population is at risk of infection and pregnant women and children under 5 years old are particularly vulnerable.
Fear of fever
Before Evelyn received her free, UK aid subsidised bednets, she was always looking out for signs of fever in her children.
One afternoon, when she returned home from her second-hand clothes business, she found her 11-month-old son Samuel suffering from a high temperature. She immediately suspected malaria.
“I knew it was malaria because of the fever, so I didn’t waste time and went directly to the hospital,” she says.
At the Lumumba Health Centre, Samuel received tests and treatment and Evelyn was given the bednets to help protect her family in the future.
Proven and cost effective
Millions of women like Evelyn are receiving these free bednets thanks to a national campaign led by the government of Kenya and supported by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID). The nets are easy to use and offer a safe, proven and cost effective way of tackling malaria.
DFID is supporting this work by providing UKaid funding to Population Services International (PSI) in Kenya. PSI procures the insecticide-treated bednets and distributes them through more than 3,000 public health centres and mission hospitals. And UKaid from DFID subsidises the cost of the bednets so that mothers and babies get the nets for free, while the rest of the population pays just a small fee.
“Three-quarters of the people who come to this clinic have malaria,” says Sylvia Onunga, the matron at the Lumumba health centre where Evelyn’s son Samuel went for treatment.
“Many of them are poor and cannot afford to buy mosquito nets. That’s why health centres are an extremely popular outlet for the treated nets.”
Since 2001, PSI has handed out 20 million insecticide-treated bednets. Co-ordinators encourage people to use the nets during community outreach sessions and visit homes to demonstrate how the nets should be hung correctly.
As a result, Kenya’s bednets usage has risen from 6% in 2003 to 56% in 2008. And this net use has led to a 44% decline in child deaths caused by malaria.
Key facts and stats
Data collected between 2002 and 2008 from one of the district hospitals showed that up to half of the patients admitted were infected with the malaria parasite.
The UK aid funded bednets were distributed through health clinics in 36 high risk districts across Kenya.
Thanks to the UKaid supported PSI Kenya project, more than 3 quarters of Kenyan households have at least 1 mosquito net.