Encouraging more people to sleep under treated bed nets in malaria-endemic Ghana isn’t just about handing out more nets, new research led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) and Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research suggests. CCP is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
A key to preventing more malaria cases, the researchers write in Malaria Journal, is finding ways to make it easier or more comfortable for occasional or seasonal users to become nightly users.
The most common reason why people abandon their nets, especially in the dry season: heat, the researchers say. In some parts of Ghana, the lack of knowledge about malaria, which contributes to a lack of motivation to use a net, was another major culprit. Study participants also described developing skin irritations from the chemically treated nets, even after airing them for 24 hours as instructed.
Participants who use nets consistently noted that there are financial benefits of prevention over treatment and that using a net can contribute to a good night’s sleep, free of nuisance biting from mosquitoes and other insects.
The study results were presented to the Ghana National Malaria Control Program and the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, with the researchers highlighting immediate opportunities to improve social and behavior change interventions. This included outlining key motivators to consistent use, updating messaging around airing nets before use, and disseminating local solutions to using nets in challenging contexts, such as outdoors.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on December 20