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Giving bednets "fair" tests in field trials against malaria:a case from Sabah, East Malaysia.

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  • 1University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu 96822.


Insecticide-impregnated bednets appear to be a potentially cost-effective intervention against endemic malaria in the tropics, but this has yet to be confirmed by field trials. There are two aspects to consider in assessing such trials: (1) the extent to which subjects use nets regularly and properly, and (2) the effectiveness of nets which are truly used regularly and properly in reducing malaria transmission. The second aspect is currently of primary concern, to determine if human-vector relationships for a particular at-risk population are such that bednets can be effective. But to give bednets a "fair" test in this regard requires regular and proper use in the first place. The study described here suggests they did not get a "fair" test in one field trial in Sabah, East Malaysia. The study also strongly suggests that direct observations, rather than post hoc questioning of subjects, may be essential to accurately gauge bednet usage rates. Accurate usage rates are required to determine what proportion of a population needs to use nets to reduce malaria transmission, and to evaluate the effectiveness of promotional programs over time. Direct observations can also yield valuable data on night-time activities that increase malaria risk, such as television viewing that keeps people awake and out of bednets.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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