There are concerns that bednets may be losing their effectiveness on controlling malaria, as mosquitoes’ resistance to insecticides increases and behavioural changes mean they now bite more frequently during the day. However, the recent slowdown in progress in fighting the disease could be partially credited to the inconsistent use of bednets, according to a recent study published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Current methods used to monitor bednets are very imprecise. However, researchers from the Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) in Uganda, recently created a new tool called SmartNets, which uses strips of conductive fabric to detect when the net is correctly in use. The results? The use of bednets varied widely between families under observation for 6 weeks.
Beyond improving data accurateness, the results reinforce the importance of developing technologies that are independent of individual behaviour to complement existing malaria control techniques and more effectively suppress the disease. Gene drive could be one of these solutions, addressing the gap between current tools and the slowdown in progress in combating malaria.
More information about the research can be found at Voa News and The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.