Background: Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children younger than 5 years old and pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. Insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) reduce clinical malaria by more than 50% and allcause mortality in young children by 15% to 30%. However, use of these nets is poor across sub-Saharan Africa, limiting the potential impact of this effective tool in the fight against malaria.

Objective: We sought to improve the use of ITNs using a community-created and -implemented approach, and measure the change in ITN use over the year after implementation.

Methods: Using a community-based participatory research approach, we created and implemented an intervention to improve ITN use in a rural village. Our intervention involved providing hands-on instructions and assistance in hanging of nets, in-home small group education, and monthly follow-up by trained community members. ITN use was measured for all individuals in a subset of the community (61 households, 759 individuals) at baseline and at 6 months and 1 year after distribution.

Results: Rates of individual usage increased significantly from 29% at baseline to 88.7% (p < .001) at 6 months and to 96.6% (p < .001) at 12 months. For children under age 5, usage rates increased from 46% at baseline to 95.7% (p < .001) at 6 months and 95.4% (p < .001) at 12 months.

Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that rapidly achieving and sustaining almost universal ITN usage rates is possible using a community-based approach. Closing the gap between ITN ownership and use will help communities to realize the full potential of ITNs in the prevention of malaria.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 123-131
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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