Saturday, 2 April 2011

MALARIA: Tanzania: national campaign to distribute nine million free LLINs

After a national voucher scheme in 2004 provided pregnant women and infants with highly subsidized insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), use among children under five years (U5s) in mainland Tanzania increased from 16% in 2004 to 26.2% in 2007. In 2008, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare planned a catch-up campaign to rapidly and equitably deliver a free long-lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) to every child under five years in Tanzania.

The ITN Cell, a unit within the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), coordinated the campaign on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Government contractors trained and facilitated local government officials to supervise village-level volunteers on a registration of all U5s and the distribution and issuing of LLINs. The registration results formed the basis for the LLIN order and delivery to village level. Caregivers brought their registration coupons to village issuing posts during a three-day period where they received LLINs for their U5s. Household surveys in five districts assessed ITN ownership and use after the campaign.

Nine donors contributed to the national campaign that purchased and distributed 9.0 million LLINs at an average cost of $7.07 per LLIN, including all campaign-associated activities. The campaign covered all eight zones of mainland Tanzania, the first region being covered separately during an integrated measles / malaria LLIN distribution in August 2008, and was implemented one zone at a time from March 2009 until May 2010. ITN ownership at household level increased from Tanzania's 2008 national average of 45.7% to 63.4%, with significant regional variations. ITN use among U5s increased from 28.8% to 64.1%, a 2.2-fold increase, with increases ranging from 22.1-38.3% percentage points in different regions.

A national-level LLIN distribution strategy that fully engaged local government authorities helped avoid additional burden on the healthcare system. Distribution costs per net were comparable to other public health interventions. Particularly among rural residents, ITN ownership and use increased significantly for the intended beneficiaries. The upcoming universal LLIN distribution and further behaviour change communication will further improve ITN ownership and use in 2010-2011.

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