Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bed Nets to Fight Malaria

Here is an interesting article from the New York Times about the debate on free vs. social-marketed bed nets used to fight malaria. The article does a good job of laying out the two sides.

Basically, the social marketing camp says if you market bed nets as a branded good and charge a small, nomial price, beneficiaries will take better care of them, use them as directed, and NOT get malaria. I saw this in Honduras, although not with bed nets. In the market, vendors would sell USAID vegetable oil in big cans labeled USAID: GIFT OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Everyone wanted to buy this oil, claiming that it was better because it was from the US- never mind that it was likely low-quality surplus oil that would never be sold in the US! The point is that people were willing to pay more for something basic they judged to be of superior quality.

The free distribution camp points out that those who are the most adversly affected by malaria are the poorest of the poor. Is it fair to make a poor mother choose between buying food or a bed net? The article bring up a point I hadn't considered: in a small village, unless everyone uses a bed net, the mosquito will simply move from the netted-bed to the next available unnetted-bed.

I'm not sure which side I am on. I lean towards the social-marketing side, just because of what I saw in Honduras. Those same cans of vegetable oil distributed by USAID were given free of charge to people. Rather than use them for their own consumption, recipients would just go the the market and make a buck!

I'm happy to say that I haven't had malaria yet, in spite of the fact that I don't take any medication. I do, however, use a bed net!

This works for me, at least!

1 comment:

Marxxxcelo Valdes said...

ese es el problema de la desigualdad en la distribucion de ingresos.