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Lifesaving nets: Benue state communities embrace use of Long Lasting Insecticidal treated nets

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The Malaria Action Program for states (MAPS) project funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) has through sustained community sensitizations and campaigns on the benefits of using long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs), achieved demonstrable behaviour change and increased acceptance of the use of LLINs across communities in Benue state. The MAPS project has as one of its core mandates, the distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs). Wadata community in Makurdi and Ojegbe community in Obi local government area are just a few of the communities where men and women whose lives have been changed now boldly tell their story to anyone who cares to listen. Hear their testimonies:

Mr. Ode Okpe, a farmer from Ojegbe, Obi local government who benefited from the mass LLIN campaign gladly proclaimed during a community dialogue meeting with the state advocacy and social mobilisation team – ‘‘I am glad to mention here that malaria illness in this community has greatly reduced. Before now, my children were always taken to the hospital because of malaria. Now the situation is different as a result of our use of LLIN’’.

Mrs. Elizabeth Achabo, a petty trader who lives on Oju Street in Wadata, Makurdi could not hide her joy during a compound meeting. She said malaria had been a major problem in her family. Her children experienced repeated episodes of fever and she always resorted to traditional herbs for treatment. Elizabeth’s story however changed when she and her children received free LLIN during the USAID/PMI mass LLIN campaign.

“I dey spend so much money every week to buy traditional medicine from one man to treat malaria for myself and children. Anytime we take the medicine, e no go stay long before we go start to sick again. Since we start to sleep inside mosquito net, we no see the problem again. Since six months now, me and my children never treat malaria again”… she narrated.

All mosquito nets act as a physical barrier, preventing access by vector mosquitoes and thus providing personal protection against malaria to the individual(s) using the nets. A long-lasting insecticidal net is a factory-treated mosquito net made with netting material that has insecticide incorporated within or bound around the fibres. The net must retain its effective biological activity without re-treatment for at least 20 standard washes under laboratory conditions and three years of recommended use under field conditions. These treated nets have an excito-repellent effect that adds a chemical barrier to the physical one, further reducing human–vector contact and increasing the protective efficacy of the mosquito nets. By reducing the vector population in this way, LLINs, when used by a majority of the target population, provide protection for all people in the community, including those who do not themselves sleep under nets.

 

It is against this backdrop that Family Health International (FHI360), through the MAPS project embarked on massive LLIN campaigns across all its project states. Free LLINs are distributed to households and through antenatal and immunization clinics. This ensures that every pregnant woman attending the clinic receives LLIN for her use and for her children. The MAPS project team not only distribute free LLINs but systematically accompany every campaign exercise with information on how to hang, use and maintain them properly. This has continued to yield demonstrable results as the testimonies from beneficiaries continue to come in.

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