When Is an Insecticide-Treated Net No Longer Useful?

Long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) have a limited lifespan. They get holes, tears and the insecticide loses its effectiveness over time. A LLIN’s lifespan can vary between 18 months and seven years, but the WHO defines the average lifespan as three years.


Photo: © 2012 Diana Mrazikova

new study published Sept. 22 in the Malaria Journal takes a look at what end-users think about the life of their nets. Interviews were conducted in August 2012 with 114 respondents from eight regions in Senegal. Eligibility criteria included owning at least one net.

Respondents assessed the net’s usefulness by the age of the net, the number and size of holes in it, and the presence of mosquitoes in the net at night. The reason most respondents decided to retire a net was because of tears or holes. Most preferred getting a new net, rather than using one that was torn, if they had the means to do so. Respondents also said they prefer using newer nets, and saving older ones to give to family or friends.

While noting that additional research is needed, the study’s authors concluded that the results show decisions regarding the end of net life vary, but most are primarily related to net integrity. “The results from this study and from future research on this topic should be used to understand current behaviors and develop communication programs to prolong the useful life of nets,” the authors said.

It is also important to consider a net’s lifespan in light of the fact that procurement and distribution of LLINs in the African region has dropped from 145 million in 2010 to 66 million in 2012.

User-determined end of net life in Senegal: a qualitative assessment of decision-making related to the retirement of expired nets

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