Niger distributing more than 4 million mosquito nets to fight malaria

Niger on Monday began distributing more than four million mosquito nets to fight malaria, which killed more than 5 000 people last year, mostly children, the poor Sahel country’s health minister said.

The nets, infused with insecticides, target more than seven million of Niger’s 20 million population, Illiassou Mainassara said on state television.

Malaria is the top killer in the former French colony, health authorities say.

The malaria death toll was 3 373 in 2019 including 2 835 children under age five, according to official figures.

The toll shot up last year, with 5 056 deaths, which the minister blamed on severe flooding, which caused conditions favouring mosquito reproduction.

There is no vaccine against malaria, and the World Health Organisation says sleeping under a mosquito net is the most effective defence against malarial mosquitos.

A net typically costs up to 1 000 CFA francs (1.5 euros, $1.80), while two-thirds of Niger’s population lives on around 500 CFA francs a day.

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