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Bull World Health Organ. 1997;75(1):23-9.

Sustainability of pyrethroid-impregnated bednets for malaria control in Afghan communities.

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  • 1HealthNet International, Peshawar, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan.


Between 1992 and 1995 a series of studies was undertaken to assess the long-term suitability of pyrethroid-impregnated bednets (PIBs) for malaria control in Afghan refugee communities in two villages in North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan. During 1992, 86% of bednet owners volunteered to have their bednets re-impregnated, and a further 15% of families purchased nets at two-thirds of cost price. From 1992 onwards, 27% of the villagers returned to Afghanistan, and annual house spraying campaigns were introduced to protect those still resident but sleeping without bednets. Within 3 years, these campaigns, together with PIBs, reduced the annual incidence of malaria by 87%, from 597 to 78 cases per 1000 population. Nevertheless, 65% of resident families continued to re-impregnate their nets annually with permethrin. To assess whether PIBs were still being used and were still protective, in view of these reduced transmission rates, we carried out a case--control study in 1994 on febrile or otherwise symptomatic patients presenting at village health centres. Comparison of the slide-positivity rates of PIB users and those without bednets showed that regular usage reduced the odds of contracting falciparum and vivax malaria to 0.22 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.09-0.55) and 0.31 (95% CI: 0.19-0.51), respectively. There was no evidence of a sex- or age-bias in bednet use or in protective effect. The results indicate that a community-based PIB programme is an appropriate malaria control measure in areas where management or security problems make traditional house-spraying campaigns impossible. A relevant finding for those involved in the monitoring of bednet distribution projects is that the local coverage of bednets and the local impact on malaria, even when introduced to remote areas, can be estimated very cheaply by health centre microscopists who simply catalogue blood film diagnoses according to patients' bednet use practices.

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