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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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WHO Supports Net Giveaways
16 August 2007 (All day)
In areas hard-hit by malaria, one of the best defenses is an insecticide-treated net. But for years, malaria experts and health advocates have debated about the best way to get nets to the people who need them. New data from Kenya suggest that the answer is clear: Hand them out for free. The World Health Organization (WHO) underscored the point today by issuing new recommendations that urge countries and aid organizations to distribute nets free of charge or at very low prices to everyone in malaria-affected communities.
The solution might sound obvious, but for years some experts have recommended an approach called social marketing. Proponents argued that it was more sustainable in the long term, and that people would value nets more if they paid for them rather than received them as handouts.
But a 2-year study of net distribution programs in Kenya contradicts that position. In findings announced by the Kenyan Ministry of Health today and in a paper scheduled to be published next week in the Public Library of Science Medicine, researchers and officials report that a 2-week distribution of 3.4 million free insecticide-treated nets had a huge impact: Several months after the campaign, two-thirds of children under age 4--the most vulnerable group for developing serious malaria--were sleeping under treated nets.
The researchers, led by Abdisalan Noor and Robert Snow of the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Nairobi, found that the poorest people benefited the most from the mass giveaway. At the beginning of the study, when the primary source of nets was the retail sector, only 2.9% of the poorest children slept under nets, whereas 15.6% of the better-off children were covered. By the end, there was no difference between the two groups: 66% of both groups were covered. "Even when you charge small amounts [for nets], families have to make a choice: bed net or school books," Snow says.
Ricki Orford, a malaria technical adviser for a nonprofit group called PSI that focuses on social-marketing techniques to promote health programs in developing countries, says his group supports the new WHO recommendations. When funding is available, he says, mass distributions are a proven way to increase coverage quickly. "This is not the time to argue about which model works where," he says. "We should be focusing on models which we can scale up now."