Saturday, October 13, 2007

Market Failures in Everything: malaria net distribution

I started my "Market Failures in Everything series" in response to Tyler Cowan's "Markets in Everything" series. So I was pleasantly surprised when he published the following:

Tyler Cowen writes:
In 2000, a world health conference in Abuja, Nigeria, set a goal: by 2005, 60 percent of African children would be sleeping under nets. By 2005, only 3 percent were.

It turns out that handing nets out for free works much better than branding them, marketing them, and selling them, albeit at subsidized prices. And when there are enough insecticide-laden nets in a village, mosquitoes avoid the place altogether (after the very first net, however, the mosquitoes simply move on to another nearby hut).

The sad fact is that the best insecticide-filled nets last no more than three to five years. And is this good or bad news?

...sales of malaria pills were way down.

Here is the full and fascinating story. Eternal vigilance is the price of foreign aid, or something like that...

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