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Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many mosquito nets were purchased by the UK for the developing world in each of the last 20 years; and which countries received such aid in each year. (95095)

DFID provides considerable support for the purchase and distribution of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) through a number of programme and health sector approaches, including budgetary support to developing countries. Information in the form requested is not held centrally by DFID, because our support for ITNs is usually provided as part of a larger package of measures to improve health and combat malaria.

DFID supports the World Health Organisation, the Roll Bank Malaria partnership, UNICEF and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), which all help finance the purchase and distribution of ITNs in developing countries. The UK has, for example, doubled its funding to the GFATM for 2006 and 2007 to £100 million annually, subject to performance. The GFATM has become a major source of funding for ITNs globally and expects to have financed the purchase of 109 million bed nets in its five funding rounds to date.

DFID’s bilateral programmes support countries to develop strong and sustainable health services that are able to scale-up the coverage of services including access to ITNs. In some countries, funding is provided as part of our overall support for poverty reduction and implementation of health sector plans. In such settings, it is not possible to attribute the number of nets to a particular donor. What we are interested in seeing is overall national increases in the distribution and use of bed nets, and many countries are making good progress in promoting ITN use.

DFID does provide direct support specifically for provision of ITNs in several countries. For example, In Kenya, DFID has committed £47.4 million for social marketing of ITNs, with the goal of reaching 60 per cent. coverage of children under five and 40 per cent. coverage of pregnant women by the end of 2007, by selling 11.1 million nets at highly subsidised and affordable prices.

In Ghana, our support has helped procure 1.8 million long-lasting insecticide treated nets through UNICEF for free distribution to children under two years of age as part of the November 2006 measles campaign. In Democratic Republic of Congo, one million nets have been distributed over a period of four years from 2003 to 2006.

In Malawi, delivery of ITNs is combined with other services. A nationwide programme has been in operation through antenatal services since 2002. More than 100,000 ITNs have been delivered every month since the programme began, and solid results achieved. ITN coverage of under-fives has risen from around 8 per cent. in 2000 to more than 60 per cent. in some districts in 2006.

In Tanzania ITNs are being rolled-out through a subsidised voucher scheme for pregnant women involving over 3,000 service delivery outlets. This is enabling more women to access ITNs, and is helping create more demand for local production.

All of these efforts are contributing to widespread use of ITNs as a vital element of the effort to combat malaria. DFID will continue to play a full part in supporting the wider availability and use of ITNs.