Two United Nations agencies today announced an international partnership that enables African countries to manufacture innovative anti-mosquito bednets that have the potential to save millions of lives on the continent where 90 per cent of the world’s deaths from malaria occur.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the Acumen Fund said the transfer of the Japanese technology to an African manufacturer was made possible by an international public-private partnership aimed at greatly reducing malaria deaths.
The new technology extends the efficacy of insecticidal bednets from about one year to more than four years without being retreated. The “long-lasting insecticidal nets” are a powerful weapon for fighting malaria, which kills more than one million people annually, most of them children under the age of five, WHO said.
Ordinary nets need to be treated with insecticides at least once a year to remain effective, a requirement which has been difficult to achieve in part due to cost, availability, and custom. In comparison, the long-lasting nets retain their effectiveness for at least four years, thanks to a technology that embeds the insecticide within the net's very fibres. Until a Tanzanian company began producing the nets in Africa earlier this month, long-lasting nets were only manufactured in Asia.
Producing the nets in Africa increases their availability to the people most affected by malaria and strengthens the development of industry in Africa. In addition to the human toll, malaria costs Africa $10 billion to $12 billion annually in lost gross domestic product (GDP).
“Properly used, [the nets] can cut malarial morbidity by at least 50 per cent and child deaths by 20 per cent,” WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook said.