The acceptability of insecticide treated mosquito nets among community members in Zimbabwe
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Objectives: To assess the acceptability of insecticide treated mosquito nets (ITNs) among community members in Zimbabwe for the implementation of effective malaria intervention using ITNs. Design: A cross sectional study and longitudinal study were carried out using questionnaires, which were administered by health workers from rural health centres. Setting: Communities in rural areas from seven districts namely Bulilimamangwe, Chipinge, Gokwe, Hurungwe, Lupane, Mount Darwin and Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe (UMP) in Zimbabwe. Subjects: 1 576 community members who bought ITNs in the project areas. Main Outcome Measure: Acceptance of ITNs and price, reasons for wanting or not wanting nets; ITNs usage and washing pattern among respondents. Results: More than 90% of people said they bought the nets from the project in order to avoid mosquito bites and to prevent malaria. Quite a number of respondents (69%) gave the answer that they bought mosquito nets from the project because they were cheaper (Z$130 to Z$390) than the market price (Z$l 000) and more than half (58.3%) claimed that they could not afford to buy mosquito nets at the market price. The price was accepted by the majority as cheap or very cheap in Gokwe, Hurungwe, Mount Darwin, and UMP (92%, 82%, 98% and 90%, respectively). Other responses given for having bought nets were at health staff’ s-recommendation (71.3 %), and they were suffering from malaria (40.9%). The reasons for not having bought mosquito nets were that they had not suffered from malaria (55.5%), that they did not like to use a mosquito net (31.1%), did not know the efficacy of the net (21.6%), or there were not many mosquitoes at home (28.9%). The percentage of ITN use was very high (90 to 100%) amongst those who bought nets. The percentage of children under five years and pregnant women who were ITN users ranged from six to 24% to 2.8 to 9.7%, respectively. Percentage of “others” which means those above five years and not pregnant was more than 70% in all the districts. The washing pattern of ITNs in Chipinge showed that most of the mosquito nets (74.5%) were washed every three to five months. Conclusion: Acceptability of ITNs was very high based on reported utilisation of ITNs. It is recommended that rural communities should be sensitised on the importance of treated nets for malaria prevention, and advised to purchase mosquito nets whenever cash is readily available in each community.