Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.
The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.
By BERNARD OKEBE - Kenya
Duncan Nyambega, a 45 year old resident of Nyamware Village in the outskirts of Kisumu, Kenya, believes that it is less painful to die of malaria than hunger. He would use mosquito nets to fish rather than in protecting himself against malaria.
Nyambega has depended on fishing as his main economic activity since his childhood and has no qualms about increasing his fishing business regardless of which method is applied to net the fish.
Just like most of his village-mates, Nyambega agrees that malaria is a serious disease in the Lake Victoria region. Yet, he had the nerve to convert the supplied Insecticides Treated Mosquito Nets (ITNs) to catch rasrineabola fish, known locally as “omena.” Fishing communities sometimes claim finding it difficult to use these nets in the bedrooms. They instead see them as tools for food first and then access anti-malarial drugs later when they fall ill.
They do not believe in staying “malaria free” and going hungry with family members.
This fast spreading new role of the nets being turned into fishing gears is a real concern for fisheries managers spearheading the fight against illegal fishing methods like the use of mosquito nets which the local fishermen refer to as “Amuok.”
Public Health officials and other players in the health sector like the Kenya Medical Research Institute and America's Centers for Disease Control in Kenya are also worried by the misuse of nets they have been supplying to the fishing communities to combat malaria.
Mr. Vincent Ogwang', a Senior Fisheries Officer in the Office of Western Kenya Fisheries, says the use of the nets is a major stumbling block in the sustainable management of the fish resources of the Lake.
Ogwang' who is also the regional chairman of the Fisheries Co-management Team of the three East African countries which share the lake - Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda - agrees that converting the nets into fishing gears not only pose a health problem but also serves as a great threat to food security for the residents.
He explains that the mosquito nets which are about 10 mm and 5 mm normally deplete the fisheries resources and greatly interferes with the Lake's ecosystem as it harvests the very juvenile fish thereby threatening the future of the fishing stock.
The fisheries expert explains that the use of the nets has already led to a serious decline in fish stocks in Lake Victoria.
He said it is critical now for a joint effort by all stakeholders and authorities to restrict the nets to its intended purpose – malaria prevention.
"Fishing is not only a major foreign exchange earner for the three countries but a source
of food and income for many households in the East African countries and the decline of fish stocks calls for radical action to weed out illegal fishing gears including mosquito seine nets," says Ogwang at a national fisheries meeting in Kisumu. The meeting was attended by Kenya's Fisheries Minister Dr Paul Otuoma and other public personalities.
“The economic development around Lake Victoria - the second largest fresh water lake in the world serving a population of about 41 Million people - also depends on agriculture and related industries,” he adds.
The nets are not only found in the Lake, but are also deployed in the farms.
Some farmers, especially those far from the Lake, have found “better and a more rewarding use”' of the nets by using them to cover tree nurseries and young plants from insects.
Magdalina Odongo is one of the peasant farmers of Ndori village in the Malaria prone Asembo region of Rarieda District (formerly Bondo District which hosts a number of malaria control trials in Kenya).
Madam Odongo has found some duties for the nets which she received from heath care providers.
She believes God would not be unkind to all her family members and will protect them from malaria. It is therefore better for her to use the family mosquito nets to shield her commercial tree nurseries which provide them with food and other basic needs like medical care.
The wrong perceptions about the nets among certain communities, combined with the activities of these fisher-folk and farmers confirm that the population needs more intensive education about the fight against malaria.