NAIROBI, 4 August (IRIN) - Britain announced on Wednesday that it would give Kenya an additional =A319.6 million (US $34.8 million) to provide 11 million new bednets treated with insecticide for women and children at risk of contracting malaria.
"This additional funding means that nets will be available to over 75 percent of the vulnerable population by 2007/08, allowing them to sleep free from the threat of malaria," Britain's International Development Secretary Hilary Benn said in a statement.
The subsidised insecticide treated bednets (ITNs) would be distributed through Mother and Child Health Clinics (MCH) and rural retailers.
Malaria is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Kenya, particularly among pregnant women and children under the age of five, according to Britain's Department for International Development (DFID).
Up to 28 million Kenyans (70 percent of the population) are at risk and at a given time 1.5 million pregnant women are susceptible, DFID said.
The DFID and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) began providing insecticide treated bednets in Kenya in 2002.
The department's goal is to contribute to the reduction in under-five and maternal mortality in Kenya and thus help the country achieve some of the Millennium Development Goals.
Over 3.9 million ITNs have been sold. Monthly sales have risen from 50,000 to over 250,000. The latest grant will bring DFID's total contribution to the programme to =A347.1 million ($83.7 million).
Ordinary ITNs require retreatment every six months to be effective, but retreament rates are low, necessitating the production of long-lasting insecticide treated nets. Two types of long-lasting ITNs have been approved by the UN World Health Organization and will be supplied through the MCH clinics.
The UK-Commission for Africa has recommended that every pregnant woman and child under the age of five should have a long-lasting insecticide treated bednet and be provided with effective malaria drugs.
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