The free mosquito nets government is currently distributing are causing body effects on the beneficiaries, raising questions on the type of insecticide that was used to treat the nets.
About nine million Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLITN) are being distributed for free to communities across the country as government labors to eradicate malaria, a number one killer disease draining tax-payers’ money in public health facilities.
However, it has been discovered that the nets are causing adverse effects on people despite following user instructions provided for by the health workers distributing them.
Malawi Punch has established that the nets are causing skin irritations and, in worse scenarios, skin rashes. Some of the beneficiaries are developing serious cough aside appalling body pains.
“I and my family are victims of these free nets. They have adverse effect on the skin. Whenever we use them, the skin becomes irritating and all the time suffers from body pains,” complains Emily Chagunda of Ndirande Township.
Most people Malawi Punch has interviewed across townships of Lilongwe and Blantyre revealed to have stopped using the nets due to the unexplained skin effects.
“I wake up with swollen face, reddish eyes. When I went to the hospital I was told there is nothing to worry about. I don’t know what is in these nets because I followed what I was told (to spread the net on the sun for a day before use),” complained another victim Alick Dinala.
Government is yet to respond to the complaints; however, the decision to distribute the nine million mosquito nets recently ignited debate on whether this system is an effective way of dealing with malaria, a disease blamed for the high rate of under-five children deaths.
Adrian Chikumbu, ministry of Health spokesperson acknowledged the battle for malaria is far from being won as long as mosquitoes are still around.
“That is why government is distributing mosquito nets as part of the battle against malaria,” he said.
Malawi on Monday celebrated World Malaria Day quietly with revelations that at least six million people were affected by malaria last year. It is estimated that the cost of malaria per household in Malawi is US$35 (About K24,500).
At least 4:6 million people suffered from malaria in Malawi most of them under five children and pregnant women. The distribution of the nets comes at a time when there is severe shortage of anti-malaria drug in public hospitals, the situation attributed to high levels of pilferages.