Latest Mosquito Bed Net Distribution
I am writing as a concerned health practitioner having recently witnessed health care practices that I leave to you to judge their impact on the many efforts on health promotion in our country. Let me tell you that brief story here.
We all fear malaria, we all suspect malaria to be the main killer for children under-five in Sierra Leone, we all think the high number of deaths in Sierra Leone due to malaria is totally unnecessary, as we all know Malaria can be prevented through simple measures.
And we all remember the bold attempt of UNICEF and the international partners DFID, the EU, the UMCOR, the Global Fund, World Vision, WHO and the WB to combat Malaria by the mass distribution of 3,523,873 long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets beginning of June this year. This is where my irritating story starts:
I happened to be participating in the distribution of bed nets somewhere in the western rural area in one of the nameless tiny villages along the peninsular road. The distribution was carried out in a way that every family received a coupon in order to be entitled to a certain quantity of bed nets according to household size. For a single household 1 bed net was given, up to 5 persons per households were supposed to receive 2 bed nets whilst households above 5 members were entitled to 3 bed nets.
First of all, we could not easily find households that were below 5 members per household and, since the coupon was not torn once they had been supplied with their share of bed nets, another family members unknown to the distributor were sent several times to receive another set of bed nets. Not that there were no smaller households than that, not that they were thinking of securing bed nets for their absent kin, no, rather that every villager driven by poverty and other motives wanted to benefit from the free supply to the maximum. As a result of that, I was not surprised to come across families having secured up to 60 bed nets in their houses, and that the bed nets were not enough for all the families in the village is evident. I was indeed very surprised when I saw them using the newly distributed bed nets as fisher net, washing sponge or wrapping material for junks and mattresses. I even came across with those bed nets at Sani Abcha Street, Freetown, where they were sold for Le 3,500 per piece.
What is so irritating about it is that the same villagers come to me to request for malaria treatment that is fortunately or unfortunately free. Moreover, having received treatment, they continue visiting other health care facilities within the area to benefit once more from the free treatment or free supplies. Who would blame them? I do not. Rather, I believe it is time to think over this very nationwide strategy to control malaria providing both, prevention and cure for free. Do not get me wrong, I do not favour privatised health care but these malpractices highly undermine all efforts to prevent malaria by giving the wrong incentives, as there is no urge to use the bed net appropriately. Some people say there is no value without price. I believe as long as the cure is free, prevention has a hard stand. They also say prevention is better than cure.
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