When disasters strike, they don’t just take away homes and devastate livelihoods. They can leave people vulnerable to disease, affecting families and whole communities long after the disaster has passed.
Flooding is one of the worst natural disasters for insect-borne diseases likes malaria. Caused by storms, tsunamis, cyclones and hurricanes, flooding leaves stagnant water behind which creates a breeding site for mosquitoes.
Mosquito nets are one of the most common ways to prevent the spread of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika Virus, dengue and yellow fever in high-risk countries across the world.
Right now, families in cyclone-battered Vanuatu and other places in the world are in urgent need of mosquito nets. By sleeping under nets coated with insecticide, families can minimize the chances of deadly malaria infection.
HELPING FAMILIES LIKE HAWA'S
Hawa and her young daughter have suffered from malaria in the past, as Minawao camp attracted a lot of mosquitoes. After that, Hawa had to stay awake at night to keep the mosquitoes from biting her daughter.
The mosquito nets made the family feel safer, sleeping a little bit better at night. Hawa says:
“This (mosquito net) is one of the most enjoyable items I received. I was so excited to try it in my shelter. I wanted to know what my first night in it would look like. So, I directly fixed it in my shelter and let me tell you that for almost one week I was doing everything under my mosquito net: dressing, resting, eating… (laughs).”
We spoke to families in the Philippines, where we responded to Tropical Storm Usman, about the mosquito nets they received.
We found out that most families use mosquito nets during the night while sleeping. Others use their mosquito nets for fishing, or to protect their crops. Merlito is one of them:
I […] use one of the nets to protect my family from mosquitoes at night, and the other I use on my farm to keep animals away from crops.
Families also told us that they were satisfied with the size and number of mosquito nets they received, as they protected the whole family. Wilma told us:
We really like the mosquito nets you have given us as they are high and we are able to stand up in them.
OUR AID: MOSQUITO NETS
In countries where insect-borne diseases are common, the mosquito nets we provide can simply and effectively make families feel safer.
Coated with insecticide, the nets offer an extra layer of protection by killing insects on and around the net.
Our mosquito nets are treated with a combined insecticide-synergist chemical. A synergist is a chemical that enhances the effectiveness of other chemicals, in this case, the insecticide. This means that our insecticide-synergist treated nets can work in areas where mosquitos are resistant to insecticide.
Sleeping under mosquito nets is one of the best ways for families to protect against malaria. Today, about 53% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is protected by bed nets, compared to just 2% in 2000. The region accounts for more than 90% of the world’s deaths due to malaria (CDC).
Pictured: ShelterBox distributing mosquito nets following Tropical Storm Kai-tak that devastated the Philippines in December 2017.
What is malaria and how does it spread?
Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes. These are known as “night-biting” mosquitoes because they most commonly bite between dusk and dawn.
The parasite enters the bloodstream and travels to the liver. The infection develops in the liver and then re-enters the bloodstream and attacks the red blood cells.
Some of the symptoms include fever, chills and sweating, vomiting, muscle pains, and diarrhoea.
Do all ShelterBox responses include mosquito nets?
Every disaster is different and so are the needs of each affected community. We work with families to provide the items that will best help them to recover – and mosquito nets are usually needed when affected areas are at risk from insect-borne diseases like malaria, Zika and Dengue Fever.
Whenever we give mosquito nets we also provide training so families know how to use them in the most effective way.
How long can a mosquito net be used for?
A mosquito net can be washed up to 20 times with soap and water.
How many mosquito nets do families get?
We provide at least two mosquito nets to each family we support.