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Sleeping Safely in Tanzania

By Fauziat Abood

Every sleeping space in Tanzania is getting a free insecticide-treated net, thanks to the Global Fund. Our biggest challenge now is to make sure that everyone is sleeping under their nets.

Many Tanzanians believe that only during the rainy season is a good time to use nets because the mosquitoes are many, but in other seasons they sleep without nets. There are also some people who believe that they don’t sleep well [under nets] because they feel that they are hurting themselves because they can’t breathe. In rural areas, some people put their mattress on the floor to sleep so they believe that since they don’t have a bed, they don’t need a net. (We have designed brochure materials and demonstrations that show you how to hang nets even if you don’t have a bed. They are distributed by our community change agents.) And there are people who say they can’t afford to buy a net [which costs about $4 to $7], but that is not true. More than 80 percent of Tanzanians own mobile phones. They spend a lot of money buying the voucher to refill their phones, so if somebody tells me they don’t have money to buy a net, I don’t believe it.

Before the government decided to talk about malaria, many people didn’t know that malaria is a killer disease in Tanzania. They thought it was just a normal fever and [they] would go to traditional healers. But these days we have more malaria partners that work with the Ministry of Health through the National Malaria Control Program.

Together we are working our best to educate people.