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Ownership and utilization of bed nets and reasons for use or non-use of bed nets among community members at risk of malaria along the Thai-Myanmar border.

Abstract

Background

With the goal for malaria elimination in Thailand set for 2024, increased coverage and utilization of bed net, especially insecticide-treated net (ITN) or long-lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) is a key strategy. This study aims to provide the necessary information about bed net ownership and utilization among the population at risk of malaria living along the Thai-Myanmar border in Tak province.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted using a mixed-method approach in 331 households from 5 hamlets in the villages of the Thai-Myanmar border. The research tools included a questionnaire, bed net inspection, and semi-structured interviews. Logistic regression was used to explore the sociodemographic factors associated with bed net utilization. The qualitative analysis employed a thematic analysis approach.

Results

This survey found that 98.5% of households had at least one bed net per household, and 74.3% had at least one ITN/LLIN. However, only 30.8% of households reached the standard policy set by the Minister of Public Health of one ITN/LLINs per two persons. Most residents used bed net (92.1% used in the previous night and 80.9% used every day). For those using bed nets, however, 61.9% used ITNs or LLINs the night before and 53.1% used them every day. Nonetheless, the usage rates of bed nets (any type) in the previous night among children and pregnant women were high, reaching 95.3% and 90.0%, respectively. Seven explanatory variables showed statistically significant associations with bed net use every day, including: "not staying overnight in the forest or the field", "sleeping pattern based on gender", "sufficient numbers of bed nets to cover all sleeping spaces", "preference for free bed nets", "age", "gender", and "SES score" showed statistically significant association with bed net use every day. The major reasons for the regular use of bed nets in both household and the forest were to prevent mosquito biting. The reasons for not using bednets in the household were discomfort feelings from heat, perception of unnecessity due to low mosquito density, whereas the reason for not using bed nets in the forest was inconvenience.

Conclusion

Despite that overall coverage and usage of bed nets was high, only one third reached the standard level specified by the policy. Overnight in the forest, the dissatisfaction with the quality of free bed nets, insufficient number of bed nets, sleeping alone, male gender, age more than 10 years, low socioeconomic status, discomfort from heat, perception of no benefits of bed nets due to low mosquito density, and inconvenience were factors influencing bed net use. Maintaining high coverage and utility rate of bed nets should be a priority for the malaria high-risk population.

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