Effectiveness and equity of the Tanzania National Voucher Scheme for mosquito nets over 10 years of implementation
To protect the most vulnerable groups from malaria (pregnant women and infants) the Tanzanian Government introduced a subsidy (voucher) scheme in 2004, on the basis of a public-private partnership. These vouchers are provided to pregnant women at their first antenatal care visit and mothers of infants at first vaccination. The vouchers are redeemed at registered retailers for a long-lasting insecticidal net against the payment of a modest top-up price. The present work analysed a large body of data from the Tanzanian National Voucher Scheme, focusing on interactions with concurrent mass distribution campaigns of free nets. In an ecologic study involving all regions of Tanzania, voucher redemption data for the period 2007 2011, as well as data on potential determinants of voucher redemption were analysed. The four outcome variables were: pregnant woman and infant voucher redemption rates, use of treated bed nets by all household members and by under- five children. Each of the outcomes was regressed with selected determinants, using a generalized estimating equation model and accounting for regional data clustering. There was a consistent improvement in voucher redemption rates over the selected time period, with rates >80% in 2011. The major determinants of redemption rates were the top-up price paid by the voucher beneficiary, the retailer- clinic ratio, and socio-economic status. Improved redemption rates after 2009 were most likely due to reduced top-up prices (following a change in policy). Redemption rates were not affected by two major free net distribution campaigns. During this period, there was a consistent improvement in net use across all the regions, with rates of up to 75% in 2011. The key components of the National Treated Nets Programme (NATNETS) seem to work harmoniously, leading to a high level of net use in the entire population. This calls for the continuation of this effort in Tanzania and for emulation by other countries with endemic malaria.