“After those nets are torn, most people use them for other purposes”: an examination of alternative bed net use in western Kenya



Abstract Background Alternative long-lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) use for purposes other than sleeping protection from mosquitoes is widely debated as a limitation to successful malaria control efforts, yet rarely rigorously studied. Methods A cross-sectional survey of 1217 households in an epidemic highland site and an endemic lowland site in western Kenya collected information on alternative use in three ways: direct observations, participant self-report, and participant reporting of community-level practices. LLIN misuse was defined as use of an intact net for alternative purposes and repurposing as alternatively using an old or damaged net. Associations between households with observed repurposed nets and universal access and household net use were examined. Results Households describe repurposing nets when they are torn and/or old. Repurposed nets were observed in 8.1% (52/643) highlands households and 33.0% (184/574) lowlands households. Repurposed nets served as chicken coops (33% highlands, 20% lowlands), fences (37% highlands, 25% lowlands), tree covers (22% lowlands), curtains (3% highlands), covering bathrooms (1.5% highlands, 9% lowlands), and washing sponges (13% lowlands). No association was found between repurposing and universal access or household net use. Misuse was rare. Of 379 repurposed nets, 4 (1.06%) were in good condition with no holes. Of 1,758 active nets, 13 (0.74%) were misused. Conclusions Alternative net use in this study involved repurposing rather than misuse. Repurposing was not detrimental to malaria prevention efforts in these communities. Standardized measurement of alternative net use should be used to better understand the practice and its potential impact on the success of malaria interventions.
Date made available2020

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