I slept under a bed net every night for over a decade. And, actually, they were a pain in the neck to sleep under.
Obviously, I’m tired when I go to bed. I would be lying if I said I always wash my face before I go to bed – sometimes that is just too much effort. Sleeping under a bed net took even more effort. At that time, you had to carefully tuck it under your mattress to ensure no mosquitoes sneaked in during the night. Then I would take out a flashlight to check that I hadn’t accidentally trapped a mosquito inside – offering myself as a meal as soon as I fell asleep. But avoiding malaria, which is prevalent in many of the places I lived, proved to be motivation enough to make my bed net routine a nightly ritual.
The good news: since 2004 the number of people dying from malaria has dropped dramatically. One reason is that bed nets are now treated with an insecticide, and they are being distributed all over the developing world. With insecticide-treated nets, you don’t have to be as careful with your “tucking” as I had to be. The bad news: Of the 1.2 million people who still died from malaria in 2010, 60% were children under age 5. I bet the parents of all those kids wish they could have had a nightly bed net ritual.
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