I’m not too sure who’s leading the latest charge in “the fight against malaria”- the “African Leaders against Malaria Alliance” or the “international donor community”…but whoever it is – I’m disappointed in the plan. Imagine $3 billion to distribute 240 billion insecticide-treated bed nets. Let’s be frank- that is putting a band aid on a sore that won’t heal.
Let me give my humble abode as an example- the area in which I reside has a terrible drainage system, meaning mosquitoes breed in the swampy heat and then infest homes in the surrounding area. Putting up a mosquito bed-net will protect me during the night when I sleep (providing that it does not have any holes and that my limbs do not end up outside the net- which tends to happen with me). Keep in mind I have a particularly small family by Zambian standards- I think the average household is about 6 people- so how many bed nets are they distributing per household? And will they still be effective if four kids are kicking up the sheets in one bed? Also- bed nets do not dissuade mosquitoes from biting me when I sit and eat my dinner in the evening, or watch TV- shall I move the bed net into the sitting room? I suppose I’m so upset because I’m looking at the amount of money that is being put into bed nets- $3 billion, that money could develop drainage systems throughout the whole of Zambia and provide a much longer term solution-no? Mosquito bed nets remind me of nylons- they’re good for about one wear before they get a run. I may sound a little cynical but I’d like to understand who’s collecting the $3 billion dollars for supplying the nets.
Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that I have the solutions, I am merely suggesting that there are alternative measures that should be considered in the 'fight against malaria'. (Apart from drainage systems screens on windows and doors make a big difference, I also have heard that Cuba has a system of residual spraying that has stopped malaria in its tracks. Not that I believe in chemicals, but I don't believe that 240 million bed nets will significantly decrease the instances of malaria)*sigh*. Like I said- I'm not an expert- I spend most of my evenings wearing long clothing to avoid the inevitable mosquito bites- but I guess I just want to throw out an argument to show that these 'good' and 'noble' ideas are often not the best solutions for development.