The National Malaria Control Program plans to promote mosquito hammock nets for migrant forest workers in the hope of reducing malaria rates, officials said Wednesday.
The Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, and the National Malaria Center will soon launch a new joint-campaign to promote mosquito nets designed for hammocks, said Dr Stefan Hoyer of the WHO. The initiative is backed by a World Bank loan of more than $900,000.
He said hammock nets could protect workers staying overnight in the forests: “Once a person sleeps under the impregnated hammock nets and uses it properly, it should be highly effective.”
Malaria transmission occurs only in forested and hilly areas here, according to experts. Since malaria mosquitoes bite only at night, those who stay overnight in the forests are the most vulnerable group.
Hoyer estimates about 2 million people—nearly 20 percent of the population—venture regularly into the forests for logging, hunting, gem mining and other income-generating activities. It is urgent to promote the use of impregnated hammock nets to this high-risk group, he said.
According to the plan, the campaign team will develop new hammock nets based on military hammock nets, promote the use of the nets in target groups, and develop a systematic distribution system, following the social marketing example used by Number One condom company. The Health Ministry initially will purchase 120,000 hammock nets and impregnation pills for each. The nets and pills will be then sold to migrant forest workers at a cost of less than $4, officials said.
After testing at several pilot sites in Kratie and Kompong Speu provinces, the team hopes to start the national campaign by the end of this year, officials said.
The team has already started developing a special hammock net called “The Peace Net.”