Hanging Nets, Preventing Malaria in DRC
Musoga and Rizikia Esther live in a two-room home in the crowded Birere neighborhood in Goma, DR Congo. Their home is modest but tidy and attentively cared for—a sharp contrast to the busy streets outside their door.
IMA World Health staff recently visited the young couple to help them hang their new malaria net, which they received at the local health center during a checkup for their 9-month-old daughter Elizabet.
With funding through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis (Round 7), IMA supports health centers in 38 of DR Congo’s health zones to distribute the insecticide-treated nets to pregnant women and children under 12 months old—two groups that are especially vulnerable to malaria.
Treated malaria nets are an effective way to reduce malaria infection, but one challenge is getting people to use them as directed. “The big problem is that people don’t know how to hang them properly, and sometimes they’ll use the nets for other purposes. Some will sell them or cover their gardens with them,” said David Mukeba, IMA Program Manager for the Global Fund project.
To date, almost half a million nets have been distributed through the project since 2012, which also conducts testing and treatment for malaria through the local health centers. To ensure the nets are being used effectively, an important activity of the Global Fund project is to visit the net recipients’ homes to demonstrate how to hang, use, and care for the nets.
Musoga and Pandasi Kisidika Didier, the head nurse from the health center, work together to securely install the net over the family’s bed. Meanwhile, wearing Elizabet on her back, Rizikia asks Mukeba questions about the net: How should she wash it? How long will it last? What if the baby puts it in her mouth?
With the net secured and all questions answered, David and Pandasi shake hands with the family and head back to the health center in good spirits—confident that the attentive young couple and their daughter would sleep soundly under their malaria net that night.
IMA World Health/Emily Esworthy