11.7 The role of the health worker in education about ITNs
Health workers at all levels of the health system need to try and make sure that ITNs are used properly by the community. However, as a locally-based Health Extension Worker or Practitioner you are the person in the best position to make a significant difference, by educating and convincing the people in your community to use ITNs properly and consistently. The success or failure of the ITN programme depends on your efforts to make people aware of the benefits of ITNs, and to change their behaviour so they use ITNs properly. Please consult your supervisors at the health centre and District Health Office if you face any problems in this regard.
Using CHWs effectively is covered in the Module on Health Education, Advocacy and Community Mobilisation.
Many health posts now also have a network of volunteer community health workers (CHWs) to support you in community-based activities. You need to use these CHWs to help you increase contact with each household in a more organised way, in order to increase the use of ITNs in your village.
Misuse of ITNs by community members, for example for covering hair, for fishing and for carrying goods, should be identified and discouraged. Not sleeping under ITNs consistently, or sleeping outdoors without ITNs (whether for adults or children) needs to be addressed if they are part of the problem. Some people may also be selling their nets.
Multiple contacts and one-to-one interactions are known to be important in bringing about changes in behaviour.