Background: In 2013, the World Health Organization recommended distribution through schools, health facilities, community health workers, and mass campaigns to maintain coverage with insecticide-treated nets (ITNs). We piloted school distribution in 3 local government areas (LGAs) of Cross River State, Nigeria.
Methods: From January to March 2011, all 3 study sites participated in a mass ITN campaign. Baseline data were collected in June 2012 (N=753 households) and school distribution began afterward. One ITN per student was distributed to 4 grades once a year in public schools. Obubra LGA distributed ITNs in 2012, 2013, and 2014 and Ogoja LGA in 2013 and 2014 while Ikom LGA served as a comparison site. Pregnant women in all sites were eligible to receive ITNs through standard antenatal care (ANC). Endline survey data (N=1,450 households) were collected in March 2014. Data on ITN ownership, population access to an ITN, and ITN use were gathered and analyzed. Statistical analysis used contingency tables and chi-squared tests for univariate analysis, and a concentration index was calculated to assess equity in ITN ownership.
Results: Between baseline and endline, household ownership of at least 1 ITN increased in the intervention sites, from 50% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 44.7, 54.3) to 76% (95% CI: 71.2, 81.0) in Ogoja and from 51% (95% CI: 35.3, 66.7) to 78% (95% CI: 71.5, 83.1) in Obubra, as did population access to ITN, from 36% (95% CI: 32.0, 39.5) to 53% (95% CI: 48.0, 58.0) in Ogoja and from 34% (95% CI: 23.2, 45.6) to 55% in Obubra (95% CI: 48.4, 60.9). In contrast, ITN ownership declined in the comparison site, from 64% (95% CI: 56.4, 70.8) to 43% (95% CI: 37.4, 49.4), as did population ITN access, from 47% (95% CI: 40.0, 53.7) to 26% (95% CI: 21.9, 29.9). Ownership of school ITNs was nearly as equitable (concentration index 0.06 [95% CI: 0.02, 0.11]) as for campaign ITNs (-0.03 [95% CI: -0.08, 0.02]), and there was no significant oversupply or undersupply among households with ITNs. Schools were the most common source of ITNs at endline and very few households (<2%) had nets from both school and ANC.
Conclusion: ITN distribution through schools and ANC provide complementary reach and can play an effective role in achieving and maintaining universal coverage. More research is needed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of such continuous distribution channels in combination with, or as a potential replacement for, subsequent mass campaigns.
© Acosta et al.