Improving access to health technologies by the poor: the social context in Tanzanian bed net production and delivery

Hanlin, Rebecca and Muraguri, Lois (2009). Improving access to health technologies by the poor: the social context in Tanzanian bed net production and delivery. International Journal of Technology Management and Sustainable Development, 8(3) pp. 237–248.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/ijtm8.3.237/1

Abstract

This article considers the factors that determine the ability to innovate health technologies in order to make them available to those who need them most in developing countries and rid populations of disease. It uses the case of Tanzanian bed/mosquito nets – particularly those treated with insecticide – which are promoted as a key prevention mechanism in the fight against malaria. Reviewing the success story of Tanzania in the production, distribution and use of bed nets, the article asks questions regarding the future ability to sustain progress. Using the concept of ‘social technologies’, the article highlights the importance of understanding the social context of the bed net innovation process. It therefore highlights the need to consider the bed net story as one not merely of effective distribution but, more significantly, of the whole innovation value chain from inputs to the textile factories making the nets to consumer needs and demands. It enriches our understanding of the complex nature in which the physical technologies (bed nets) are accessed by the poor and how this relates to the overall health system.

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