OAG finds no traces of 1 million nets

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KATHMANDU, APR 14 – Over a million units of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) meant for distribution in malaria affected districts are found to have been lost, a government report says.

The report shows that from December 11 to December 20 in 2013, over 2.1 million ITNs worth over Rs610 million were brought in the country. The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has found that the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) has maintained a record of distribution of nets worth Rs300 million while the half of the units are unaccounted for.

The OAG reports that only around 1 million units were dispatched to malaria affected districts. The office has asked the authorities to investigate into the matter and take necessary action.

Dr Baburam Marasini, director of the EDCD, said that PSI, an INGO, had distributed the nets two years ago without registering them with the division’s store. However, following a directive from the Finance Ministry, the nets were last year recorded in the EDCD store before they were distributed by the PSI.

“This is sheer negligence on part of the Social Welfare Council and it should be held accountable. The EDCD has nothing to do with the unregistered nets,” said Dr Marasini. The SWC regulates NGOs operated in the country. The government has also been conducting malaria control programmes with support from Global Fund since 2004.

The EDCD says the number of confirmed malaria cases has dropped by one third as compared to 2004. Statistics show there are over 3,200 malaria cases in Nepal at present.

Malaria is caused in humans by anopheles mosquito. According to the World Health Organization, the first symptoms of malaria are fever, headache, chills and vomiting, which may be mild and difficult to recognise as malaria.

If not treated within 24 hours, the P falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death. Children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more symptoms, including acute anaemia.