Community perceptions, acceptability, and the durability of house screening interventions against exposure to malaria vectors in Nyimba district, Zambia

Kochelani Saili*, Christiaan de Jager, Freddie Masaninga, Brian Chisanga, Andy Sinyolo, Japhet Chiwaula, Jacob Chirwa, Busiku Hamainza, Emmanuel Chanda, Nathan N. Bakyaita, Clifford Maina Mutero

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: House screening remains conspicuously absent in national malaria programs despite its recognition by the World Health Organization as a supplementary malaria vector-control intervention. This may be attributed, in part, to the knowledge gap in screen durability or longevity in local climatic conditions and community acceptance under specific cultural practices and socio-economic contexts. The objectives of this study were to assess the durability of window and door wire mesh screens a year after full house screening and to assess the acceptability of the house screening intervention to the participants involved. Methods: This study was conducted in Nyimba district, Zambia and used both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. Both direct observation and questionnaires were employed to assess the durability of the screens and the main reasons for damage. Findings on damage were summarized as percentages. Focus group discussions were used to assess people’s knowledge, perceptions, and acceptability of the closing eaves and house screening intervention. Deductive coding and inductive coding were used to analyse the qualitative data. Results: A total of 321 out of 400 (80.3%) household owners of screened houses were interviewed. Many window screens (90.3%) were intact. In sharp contrast, most door screens were torn (n = 150; 46.7%) or entirely removed (n = 55; 17.1%). Most doors (n = 114; 76%) had their wire mesh damaged or removed on the bottom half. Goats (25.4%), rust (17.6%) and children (17.1%) were cited most as the cause of damage to door screens. The focus group discussion elicited positive experiences from the participants following the closing of eaves and screening of their windows and doors, ranging from sleeping peacefully due to reduced mosquito biting and/or nuisance and having fewer insects in the house. Participants linked house screening to reduced malaria in their households and community. Conclusion: This study demonstrated that in rural south-east Zambia, closing eaves and screening windows and doors was widely accepted. Participants perceived that house screening reduced human-vector contact, reduced the malaria burden and nuisance biting from other potentially disease carrying insects. However, screened doors are prone to damage, mainly by children, domestic animals, rust, and termites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number285
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2024


  • Acceptability
  • Community perceptions
  • Durability
  • House screening
  • Malaria
  • Mosquitoes
  • Zambia


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