Experiences integrating delivery of maternal and child health services with childhood immunization programs: systematic review update.
OBJECTIVES To determine the feasibility of distributing insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) through routine immunization services, to increase ownership and use of ITNs among high-risk groups, whereas maintaining or improving timely completion of routine vaccinations. METHODS Free ITNs were provided with timely completion of routine vaccinations in two intervention districts in southern Malawi for 15 months. Cross-sectional baseline and follow-up household surveys were conducted in the two intervention districts and one control district. RESULTS Insecticide-treated nets utilization among children aged 12-23 months roughly doubled in the two intervention districts and did not change in the control district. Timely vaccination coverage increased in all three districts. The percentage of children aged 12-23 months who were both fully vaccinated by 12 months and slept under an ITN the night prior to the interview increased from 10-14% at baseline to 40-44% at follow-up in the intervention districts (P < 0.001), but did not change significantly in the control district. CONCLUSIONS This study is the first to evaluate the provision of free ITNs at completion of a child's primary vaccination series, demonstrating that such a linkage is both feasible and can result in improved coverage with the combined services. Additional studies are needed to determine whether such a model is effective in other countries, and whether integration of other health services with immunization delivery could also be synergistic.