I have been so curious to see how Ugandans would like our new striped nets. As soon as I saw the new colors, I really liked the nets and thought that Ugandans would too, but you never know. People’s tastes can be, well, hard to understand at the very least. These are mosquito nets and people do have to sleep under them every night so in general people like a “smart” looking net. We did our first net sale with the striped nets in a small, rural village in Butagaya Sub County and my hunch proved right. In fact, the new red and blue striped nets were so popular that ladies were fighting over the last ones at the end of the sale! I felt badly that we did not have more to sell.
In addition, the feedback from our Ugandan staff has also been very positive and everyone likes the colors very much! I will be interested to see on our follow-up visits to net buyer homes whether people tell us if the colors make them want to use the net more. That may sound a little strange but often a net can be seen as a status symbol in Uganda and if you have a newer even better looking net, you may be even more inclined to sleep under that net every night. We don’t know any of this for sure, but it’s a very interesting idea. We do know that education about how and why to use the net also really helps people use the net correctly.
This summer we had a volunteer visiting us from the States who was involved in a project to follow up on nets that were purchased out of the clinic without an accompanying Malaria Education and Prevention session and see if there was a difference in proper net usage of those nets versus the ones purchased in education and prevention sessions. I hope to be hearing from our volunteer Teresa very soon on this project. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the net sales progress with the new striped nets.