Despite remarkable progress in malaria burden reduction, malaria continues to be a major public health problem globally. Ethiopia has been distributing long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) for free and nationwide distribution was completed in 2016. However, evidence suggests that the utilization of LLINs varies from setting to setting and from time to time due to different factors, and up-to-date evidence is required for LLIN related decision-making. Hence, this study was designed to assess LLIN utilization and its determinants in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia.

A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted in Southern Ethiopia in 2019. Using multi-stage sampling, a total of 2466 households were included. The region was stratified based on the annual malaria index as high, moderate, low, and free strata. Cluster sampling was then applied to select households from high, moderate, and low strata. Data on LLIN ownership, utilization and different determinant factors were collected using household questionnaire. SurveyCTO was used to collect data and data was managed using Stata 15. Descriptive statistics and multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression were performed to identify the determinants of utilization of LLINs. Effect measures were reported using adjusted odds ratio (AOR) with 95% CI.

From a total of 2466 households, 48.7% of households had at least one LLIN. LLIN adequacy based on family size was 23% while it was15.7% based on universal access and 29.2% based on sleeping space. From 1202 households that possessed LLIN(s), 66.0% of households reported that they slept under LLIN the night preceding the survey. However, when the total population in all surveyed households were considered, only 22.9% of household members slept under LLIN the night preceding the survey. Malaria endemicity, educational status, wealth status, and knowledge about malaria were associated with LLINs utilization. In addition, reasons for non-use included perceived absence of malaria, side effects of LLIN, conditions of LLINs, inconvenient space and low awareness.

Low LLIN coverage and low utilization were noted. A low level of utilization was associated with malaria endemicity, wealth status and level of awareness. Distribution of LLIN and continuous follow-up with community awareness creation activities are vital to improve coverage and utilization of LLINs, and to ensure the country’s malaria elimination goal.

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