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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Johns Hopkins: Urban Purchases of Malaria Nets Suggest Demand for Consumer Market

Even though most insecticide-treated bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa are provided by international donors, in some wealthier, urban pockets people are buying their own nets as protection against malaria-infected mosquitoes during sleep, new findings suggest.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP)-led research, published last month in Malaria Journal, adds insight into where and whether commercial retail markets for insecticide-treated nets could potentially thrive in the future. CCP is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The researchers found that people who purchase their nets are just as — and sometimes more — likely as those who get them for free to sleep under them nightly.

In the 16 sub-Saharan African countries analyzed in the new study, the proportion of households with at least one purchased net ranged from 1 percent in Rwanda to 23.4 percent in Mali. To conduct the study, the researchers analyzed data from Demographic Health Surveys or Malaria Indicator Surveys from each country.

The study results, the authors say, could provide an impetus for the private sector to promote retail sales of treated nets that may appeal to people’s preferred features including size, shape, texture and aesthetics.

The World Health Organization recommends that treated nets be disseminated through multiple channels, including the possibility of expanding the use of net purchases in retail outlets. Such nets could also fill in the gaps if there are future shortfalls in the availability of donor-provided nets.

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