How can I prevent malaria in general?
Malaria is transmitted through the bites of some mosquitoes. Sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net is the best way to prevent mosquito bites.
All members of the community should be protected against mosquito bites, particularly young children and pregnant women. Protection is needed after sunset and before sunrise, when malaria mosquitoes bite.
Long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets last for at least three years and do not require re-treatment with insecticide. These nets are distributed by malaria control programmes and can be obtained through health facilities or during child health days or integrated campaigns. Most mosquito nets are distributed free of charge, especially to pregnant women and young children. They can also be purchased in the marketplace or through social marketing programmes, mainly in urban areas. In the few cases where untreated nets might still be in use, trained health workers can advise on safe insecticides and re-treatment.
Insecticide-treated mosquito nets should be used throughout the year, even when there are fewer mosquitoes, such as during the dry season.
Some countries operate programmes to spray the walls of houses with long-lasting insecticides to kill resting mosquitoes. Communities should cooperate with spray teams to ensure that all houses are sprayed.
In addition to using insecticide-treated mosquito nets, or if mosquito nets are not available or used, other actions can help, but they are not nearly as effective as using mosquito nets:
- putting screens on doors and windows; these are mostly used in urban settings and are not very effective in traditional rural housing
- using mosquito coils; these are used to repel but not kill mosquitoes – they have no lasting effect
- wearing clothing that covers the arms and legs (long sleeves and long trousers or skirts); these can help reduce mosquito bites if worn when malaria mosquitoes are most active – from dusk until dawn.