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Mosquito Bed nets Save Lives But Not When They Are Torn

World Health Organisation (2019). World Malaria Report 2019, Uganda has the 3rd highest global burden of malaria cases (5%) and the 8th highest level of deaths (3%). It also has the highest proportion of malaria cases in East and Southern Africa 23.7%. In 2017, malaria accounted for 27-34 % of outpatient visits and 19-30 % of inpatient admissions. Under-five deaths due to malaria was at 7% while neonatal (under 12 months) mortality was at 11%.

However, in 2018 there was a lower-than-expected number of malaria cases because there was no seasonal transmission peak between week 20 and 30 as we’ve seen in previous years. This could potentially be because of the mass distribution of nets, which was completed in early 2018.

Looking at such progress made, mosquito bed nets are arguably the best preventive measure for Malaria. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that such nets are used effectively to achieve maximum protection from mosquito bites.

Personally, I grew up in Uganda and got sick with Malaria countless times throughout my childhood and as a teenager. The major predisposing factors at the time were a lack of mosquito bed nets in our home and limited knowledge on how to take care of bed nets, when we were able to afford them.

Ben and Michael (Arceate Health Innovation), Arizona State University, after a day of training with Youth Health Ambassadors

Although there has been rampant distribution of bed nets across communities in Uganda, there are still myths and challenges on correct use of bed nets and how to repair them when they get torn.

In my childhood experience, we could wash the nets quite frequently to keep them clean, yet this weakened them. We would continue to use the bed net even when it was torn, and we didn’t know how to repair them, and my mom could not afford to buy you a new bed net at every turn. So it got to a point where you had so many holes in the bednet, and hence still got sick despite sleeping in the bed net. So when they developed way too many holes, we could stop using them and sleep with no protection from mosquitoes.

This same story I experienced a couple of years ago is the same story you still find on the lips of many Ugandans in our community. People now at least get some free bed nets from the government of Uganda once the net gets torn, they experience the same challenges that I faced and usually just deal away with the net.

Michael conducting a net patching session.

Arceate Health Innovation came up with a fantastic product that refreshes and revives the use of mosquito bed nets. Instead of torn bed nets being thrown out of the house to become building materials for chicken houses, using them as fishing nets, among other things I saw with my own eyes, the little Mosquito net patching kit keeps the bed net to its primary purpose: malaria prevention. In June 2021, Arceate Health Innovation partnered with Youth Rising International to train our Youth Health Ambassadors on how to use the Mosquito net patching kit to fix holes in
torn mosquito bed nets.

Arceate Health Innovation Mosquito Net Patching Kit

Over the past 4 months, the ambassadors have trained and distributed over 1000 bed net repair kits to households in our community in Mpumu, Salaama, Piida, Terere, Luga, Bunankanda, etc, in Mukono District, Uganda. In nearly every household a patching kit was distributed, there was a torn bed net that needed repairs. After all repairs were done, community members were re-energized to the fact that their nets could protect them 100% from mosquito bites and malaria.

And right there is the frontline and last mile fight to zero malaria cases. I therefore implore anyone reading this letter to continue supporting this fantastic innovation, so that Arceate Health Innovation can reach more households with more net patching kits. In most communities, the challenge is no longer access to a mosquito bed net like it was for me a couple of years ago. It is how we can make those bednets continue to protect families for as long as possible and in the most sustainable way.

Working on Patching

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