Background: The study sought to determine the effect of using insecticide-treated clothes (ITCs) on personal protection against malaria infection. The specific objectives were to determine the effect of using ITCs on the rate of infection with malaria parasites and the effect on indoor mosquito density.
Methods: This study was done in Dadaab refugee camps, North Eastern Province Kenya between April and August 2002, and involved a total of 198 participants, all refugees of Somali origin. The participants were selected through multi-stage cluster sampling. Half of the participants (treatment group) had their personal clothes worn on a daily basis (Diras, Saris, Jalbaabs, Ma'awis and shirts) and their bedding (sheets and blankets) treated with insecticide (permethrin). The other half (comparison group) had their clothes treated with placebo (plain water). Indoor mosquito density was determined from twelve households belonging to the participants; six in the treatment block and six in the comparison block. During pre-test and post-test, laboratory analysis of blood samples was done, indoor mosquito density determined and questionnaires administered. Using STATA statistical package, tests for significant difference between the two groups were conducted.
Results: Use of ITCs reduced both malaria infection rates and indoor mosquito density significantly. The odds of malaria infection in the intervention group were reduced by about 70 percent. The idea of using ITCs for malaria infection control was easily accepted among the refugees and they considered it beneficial. No side effects related to use of the ITCs were observed from the participants.
Conclusion: The use of ITCs reduces malaria infection rate and has potential as an appropriate method of malaria control. It is recommended, therefore, that this strategy be considered for use among poor communities like slum dwellers and other underprivileged communities, such as street children and refugees, especially during an influx to malaria-prone regions. Further research on cost-effectiveness and sustainability of this strategy is worthwhile.