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Nothing But Nets

A Biography of Global Health Science and Its Objects

Kirsten Moore-Sheeley

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How insecticide-treated bed nets became a staple of global public health initiatives and reshaped health practices in Africa and beyond.

Distributed to millions of people annually across Africa and the global south, insecticide-treated bed nets have become a cornerstone of malaria control and twenty-first-century global health initiatives. Despite their seemingly obvious public health utility, however, these chemically infused nets and their rise to prominence were anything but inevitable.

In Nothing But Nets, Kirsten Moore-Sheeley untangles the complicated history of insecticide-treated nets as...

How insecticide-treated bed nets became a staple of global public health initiatives and reshaped health practices in Africa and beyond.

Distributed to millions of people annually across Africa and the global south, insecticide-treated bed nets have become a cornerstone of malaria control and twenty-first-century global health initiatives. Despite their seemingly obvious public health utility, however, these chemically infused nets and their rise to prominence were anything but inevitable.

In Nothing But Nets, Kirsten Moore-Sheeley untangles the complicated history of insecticide-treated nets as it unfolded transnationally and in Kenya specifically—a key site of insecticide-treated net research—to reveal how the development of this intervention was deeply enmeshed with the emergence of the contemporary global health enterprise.

While public health workers initially conceived of nets as a stopgap measure that could be tailored to impoverished, rural health systems in the early 1980s, nets became standardized market goods with the potential to save lives and promote economic development globally. This shift attracted donor resources for malaria control amid the rise of neoliberal regimes in international development, but it also perpetuated a paradigm of fighting malaria and poverty at the level of individual consumers. Africans' experiences with insecticide-treated nets illustrate the limitations of this paradigm and provide a warning for the precariousness of malaria control efforts today.

Drawing on archival, published, and oral historical evidence from three continents, Moore-Sheeley reveals the important role Africans have played in shaping global health science and technology. In placing both insecticide-treated nets and Africa at the center of global health history, this book sheds new light on how and why commodity-based health interventions have become so entrenched as solutions to global disease control as well as the challenges these interventions pose for at-risk populations.

Reviews

Reviews

Moore-Sheeley deftly documents the meteoric rise of mosquito nets to the forefront of lifesaving interventions in global health and the complex mix of epidemiological evidence and rhetoric fueled by political, social, and economic forces that vaulted them into this position. She offers a necessary corrective to the conventional understanding of these nets as a direct result of evidence-based decision-making.

Kirsten Moore-Sheeley's Nothing But Nets closely examines the complex history of the insecticide-treated bed net on its path to becoming a key global-health good. It makes an important contribution to critical global health studies and our understanding of the ongoing challenges to reducing malaria transmission in Africa.

Nothing But Nets provides a fascinating account of the rise of insecticide-treated mosquito nets as an iconic global health technology and with it the broader ascendance of a global health paradigm that centers individualized commodities. A must-read book for scholars and students in critical global health and deserving of a very wide readership.

This biography of ITNs presents a critical appraisal of the global health industry—the inequities and idiosyncrasies, the conscious decisions and unintended consequences that have shaped the field. A smart, provocative, and important book. Nothing But Nets will be assigned reading for all my global health students and should be assigned reading for my global health colleagues too.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
248
ISBN
9781421447575
Illustration Description
7 halftones
Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Making Evidence-Based Global Health in Africa
1. The Scientific Object: Becoming the Right Tool for the Job
2. The Biomedical Technology: From Kenyan Particulars to

List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Making Evidence-Based Global Health in Africa
1. The Scientific Object: Becoming the Right Tool for the Job
2. The Biomedical Technology: From Kenyan Particulars to Global Universals
3. The Technology of Neoliberal Policy: Taking Insecticide-Treated Nets to Market
4. The Global Health Commodity: Selling the Value of Saving Lives
5. The Domestic Technology: Making Healthy Homes in Kenya
Conclusion: Lessons for Global Health and Malaria Control in a Precarious Age
Acknowledgements
Bibliography
Index
Notes

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Kirsten Moore-Sheeley

Kirsten Moore-Sheeley (LOS ANGELES, CA) is an assistant professor of the history of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.