Physical condition of Olyset® nets after five years of utilization in rural western Kenya

Mejía, Paola; Teklehaimanot, Hailay Desta; Tesfaye, Yihenew; Teklehaimanot, Awash

Background: Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) are a cornerstone of malaria control at present, and millions are used each day across the globe. However, there is limited information about the durability of LLINs under different conditions of utilization and there is no consensus about when a LLIN ceases to be protective due to physical deterioration. This knowledge is important for malaria control programmes to plan for procurement and replacement. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 208 households where Olyset® nets distributed five years ago were still present was conducted in the village of Sauri, western Kenya, in the context of the Millennium Villages Project. Information on bed net utilization and maintenance was collected in each household through a structured questionnaire, and one five-year-old Olyset® net from each sampled household was randomly selected and collected for physical examination. All holes larger than 0.5 cm were measured in each net, registering their position, and a hole index was calculated following WHO guidelines. Nets were classified as in good condition, moderately damaged or badly torn based on the hole index. The analysis explored the associations between demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of households, patterns of bed net utilization and maintenance and physical condition of the nets. Additional analysis was conducted using malaria prevalence data collected in a separate survey to explore if there was any association between the condition of the net collected in a household and the presence of malaria parasites in members of that household. Results: 81.4% of Olyset® nets distributed five years ago were still present in the surveyed households, and 98.97% of the nets were reportedly used the previous night. Nets had an average of 34.2 holes (95% CI 30.12-38.22), and the mean hole index was 849 (95% CI 711–986), IQR 174–1,135. 15.2% of nets were still in good condition, 46.1% were moderately damaged and 38.7% were badly torn after five years of utilization. There was no association between household characteristics or patterns of bed net utilization or maintenance and physical condition of the nets. The only predictor of the physical condition of the net was the cleanliness at the time of examination. There was a difference of 17.6 percentage points in the proportion of households with at least one blood smear positive for Plasmodium falciparum between households with a net in good condition (5.3%) and those with a moderately damaged or badly torn net (22.9%), 95% CI (0.04-0.305), t=2.77 with unequal variance, p=0.009. Conclusions: Olyset® nets were used extensively in Sauri, western Kenya after five years of distribution, regardless of their physical condition. However, only 15% were found in good condition. Nets in good condition seem to be still protective after five years of utilization, while nets with more than 100 cm2 of holed surface may be associated with higher malaria parasitaemia at household level. Continued replacement of damaged nets and promotion of net maintenance and repair may be necessary to maintain the protective effectiveness of LLINs.


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Malaria Journal

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Earth Institute
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September 9, 2014