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The Effectiveness of Community Bed Net Use on Malaria Parasitemia among Children Less than 5 Years Old in Liberia


Stebbins, Rebecca C.; Emch, Michael E.; & Meshnick, Steven R. (2018). The Effectiveness of Community Bed Net Use on Malaria Parasitemia among Children Less than 5 Years Old in Liberia. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 98(3), 660-666. PMCID: PMC5930893


In 2013, the under-5 mortality rate in Liberia was 71 deaths per 1,000 live births, with malaria responsible for 22% of those deaths. One of the primary existing control tools, long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs), is thought to be dually effective, acting as a physical barrier but also decreasing the mosquito population in communities. However, there has been little investigation into the protective effects of community-wide bed net use above and beyond the individual level. Using data from the population-representative 2011 Liberia Malaria Indicator Survey, we estimated the association between proportion of a community using LLINs and malaria in children using multi-level logistic regression. To investigate the potential effect measure modification of the relationship by urbanicity, we included an interaction term and calculated stratum-specific prevalence odds ratios (PORs) for rural and urban communities. We calculated a POR of malaria for an absolute 10% increase in community bed net use of 1.13 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.91, 1.41) and 0.35 (95% CI: 0.13, 0.92) for rural and urban communities, respectively, indicating a strong, though imprecise, protective effect within urban communities only. Our results indicate that bed net use has an indirect protective effect in urban areas, above and beyond individual use. Little or no such effect of community-wide use is seen in rural areas, likely because of population density factors. Therefore, although all control efforts should be multifaceted, promotion of bed net use in urban areas in particular will likely be a highly effective tool for control.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene


Stebbins, Rebecca C.
Emch, Michael E.
Meshnick, Steven R.