Friday, June 14, 2024

Mosquito nets used as maize shelling sieves in Chinsali

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Chinsali District malaria committee has expressed concern at the continuous misuse of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) with a new twist from being used as fishing nets to maize shelling sieves.

This was revealed during a quarterly meeting on Friday at the health offices.

Members in the meeting learnt that the increasing demand for Insecticide Treated Nets is not about the actual use of sleeping under them but to use as grain sieves.

According to the report presented by Malaria Committee Secretary Ryan Muyumbe, Chinsali District has recorded an increase in malaria cases this year compared to 2022 data.

District Disease Surveillance Officer, Kayombo Sakutaha attributed the increase in malaria to people who are not using mosquito nets for the intended purpose.

Mr Sakutaha said mosquitos are now used for farming activities where farmers do not want to spend more on equipment but maximise their profits through the use of ITNS as alternative ways to prepare their grain.

He stressed that public health community sensitisation has been done and proposed for the formulation of by laws regarding the misuse of ITNs through the local authority.

During the discussion, some members proposed the need to enforce laws on misuse of nets and make those found wanting answerable.

In response, District Health Director Technical, Kennedy Kabuswe, explained that there is no such a law under public Health Act but proposed to the District Agriculture Coordinator to sensitise farmers on the dangers of chemicals used to treat the nets.

Dr Kabuswe lamented that the insecticide chemicals are not consumable as they are poisonous in nature meant to kill mosquitoes.

“The chemicals used to treat the mosquito nets by manufacturers are poisonous and not fit for food mixing because some net misusers do not even follow the guidelines which may end up contaminating food stuff,” he said.

He explained that the chemicals remain active on the nets for three to four years adding that the recommended times of washing an ITN is 21 times for a period of 3 years before stopping using it for the intended purpose.

The team also took a quick trip to do a spot check about the misuse of ITNs in nearby villages in Chandamali and Mutale found traditional shelling racks covered with mosquito nets.

One of the farmers, Kelvin Bwembya, interviewed by the team, named the materials as mosquito nets which he said are affordable than hiring a maize sheller.

The committee also learnt that apart from shelling, some residents use the ITNs as roofing fibre, skirting charcoal bags.

“Some people like roofing their houses using the nets because ants repel from roofing poles and grass that are tied using mosquito nets,” Mr Bwembya said.

The Malaria Committee resolved to urgently engage chiefs on the matter for quick interventions as they lobby civic leaders to come up with by-laws that will restrict and refrain community members from misusing ITNs.

Members further recommended massive sensitisation on the correct ways of using mosquito nets.

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