BACKGROUND: Malaria is a huge global health burden due to its mortality, morbidity and cost to economies. It is necessary to eliminate the disease in all countries where possible to achieve the World Health Organization target of > 90% reduction by 2030. Successful previous campaigns suggest elimination is feasible in Peru. However, the incidence has recently been rising, focalized to the region of Loreto. Currently, the distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) is a major part of Peru's malaria control strategy, however these may be having a limited effect in Loreto, because of the recent behavioural adaption of the mosquito vector, Anopheles darlingi, to earlier biting times, as well as local perceptions and practices towards LLINs. It was, therefore, necessary to investigate how perceptions, practices and lifestyle factors affect the efficacy of LLINs in Loreto.
METHODS: Qualitative research was carried out in 5 rural communities along the Iquitos-Nauta Road in Loreto, which have increased exposure and have received nets in a distribution scheme prior to the study. Twenty semi-structured interviews as well as observations of the bed nets were conducted in participants' homes, using a topic guide. Thematic content analysis was used to produce the findings.
RESULTS: All participants viewed malaria prevention as a high priority, and the use of bed nets was deeply embedded in the culture. They expressed preference for LLINs over traditional-type nets. However there were too few LLINs distributed, participants did not maintain the nets correctly, washed them too frequently and did not repair holes. The earlier mosquito biting times were also problematic. Additionally, poor housing construction and proximity to mosquito breeding sites further increased transmission.
CONCLUSION: The positive findings in attitudes of the respondents can be used to improve malaria control in these communities. Interventions providing education on effective LLIN use should be implemented. A change in strategy away from vector control methods is also necessary, as these do not provide long-term protection due to the adaptability of An. darlingi. Interventions focusing on parasite control are recommended, and socio-economic factors which increase malaria risk should be addressed.
- Bed net
- Malaria prevention