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‘Bednet development must progress as fast as mosquito’s resistance evolve’

bednet development must progress as fast as mosquitos resistance evolve

Long Lasting Insecticide-treated Bed Nets (LLINs) CREDIT: U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Nigeria

A leader in development and manufacturing of insecticide resistant bednets and Chief Executive Officer of Vestergaard, Michael Joos, has said that long-lasting insecticidal nets are the backbone of malaria control programmes on which additional interventions are layered.

Joos, during an online panel discussion hosted by the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA) and its partners to discuss lessons and opportunities in the fight against malaria, said with the pandemic causing a steep decrease in malaria diagnosis and treatment, this tool is more critical than ever before to avert malaria deaths.

The online panel discussion, which took place only days before World Malaria Day, was the second installment of a three-part webinar series. It highlighted how countries and businesses have adapted their health programmes in the battle against malaria in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as opportunities for collaboration to scale up malaria control efforts and impacts.

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Joos said: “COVID-19 has placed significant pressures on malaria programs. The humble bednet is quite literally holding-up the fort. However, growing mosquito resistance to insecticides used on bednets is also making them less effective. New generation bednets with new insecticides must be brought to market quickly.”

He said there are significantly higher level of complexity involved in the Research and Development (R&D) process, the polymer science and the manufacturing of new generation bednets. Joos said a renewed engagement between private sector, donor organisations and malaria programmes of endemic countries can help mitigate the risks and costs involved.

Joos explained: “To bring new generation nets to communities that need them will require a more strategic level of interaction between private sector and the institutions buying and deploying these innovations at scale. By fast-tracking the regulatory pathway to market, improving tools to evaluate bednet performance in real conditions of use, and ensuring faster adoption of new nets at scale, the malaria community can not only save time and money, but also improve impact.

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“While innovation efforts to increase bednet effectiveness are underway, it is not too soon to also consider how the sustainable manufacturing of bednets can protect both people and planet. Bednets and their packaging are predominantly made of polymer plastics -major pollutants to the environment.”

Vestergaard proudly announced that they had now developed the technology to make bednets out of 100 per cent recycled and upcycled material – without compromising on quality – making it possible to save lives, and the planet. Joos also pointed out that more should be done to ensure at risk populations use bednets more frequently. “The community has a long way to go to bridge these challenges and therefore we call for a collaborative effort between technology players like Vestergaard, global funders and malaria programme coordinators to find new and innovative solutions to these challenges”, he said.

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As the panel discussion came to a close, CAMA launched the End Malaria Project, which serves as a call to action for greater collaboration and coordination to achieve a common goal. “It is encouraging to see how the community has already stepped up to continue and accelerate efforts against malaria despite the obstacles.

Vestergaard applauds the End Malaria Project initiative, which seeks to galvanise support towards reducing the incidence and prevalence of malaria in Nigeria,” Joos added.

Vestergaard are known for their PermaNet long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) to prevent malaria, the company has manufactured 800 million PermaNet protecting an estimated 1.6 billion lives in malaria-endemic countries.

CAMA is a GBCHealth-led initiative to drive partnerships for malaria control and elimination. The Alliance is a unique coalition of companies from various industries, all with business interests in Africa. CAMA channels the collective force and voice of the private sector to drive impact on malaria in Africa from workplaces to region-wide initiatives.

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