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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Spatial effects of mosquito bednets on child mortality

Laura Gosoniu1*, Penelope Vounatsou1, Adriana Tami12, Rose Nathan3, Hajo Grundmann4 and Christian Lengeler1

Author Affiliations

1 Swiss Tropical Institute, Basel, Switzerland

2 Royal Tropical Institute, Biomedical Research, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

3 Ifakara Health Research and Development Center, Ifakara, Tanzania

4 Centre for Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, the Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:356  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-356

Published: 14 October 2008



Insecticide treated nets (ITN) have been proven to be an effective tool in reducing the burden of malaria. Few randomized clinical trials examined the spatial effect of ITNs on child mortality at a high coverage level, hence it is essential to better understand these effects in real-life situation with varying levels of coverage. We analyzed for the first time data from a large follow-up study in an area of high perennial malaria transmission in southern Tanzania to describe the spatial effects of bednets on all-cause child mortality.


The study was carried out between October 2001 and September 2003 in 25 villages in Kilombero Valley, southern Tanzania. Bayesian geostatistical models were fitted to assess the effect of different bednet density measures on child mortality adjusting for possible confounders.


In the multivariate model addressing potential confounding, the only measure significantly associated with child mortality was the bed net density at household level; we failed to observe additional community effect benefit from bed net coverage in the community.


In this multiyear, 25 village assessment, despite substantial known inadequate insecticide-treatment for bed nets, the density of household bed net ownership was significantly associated with all cause child mortality reduction. The absence of community effect of bednets in our study area might be explained by (1) the small proportion of nets which are treated with insecticide, and (2) the relative homogeneity of coverage with nets in the area. To reduce malaria transmission for both users and non-users it is important to increase the ITNs and long-lasting nets coverage to at least the present untreated nets coverage.