PM+: Blocking mosquito bites ‘effective’ method to eradicate malaria

Written by Egon Weinmueller on 29 April 2014 in Opinion Plus
Opinion Plus

Prevention, through the use of insecticidal nets and indoor residual spraying, is one of the best ways to win the battle against malaria, writes Egon Weinmueller.

Malaria is one of the world’s most deadly diseases – in 2012 it caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children. On average, the UN estimates malaria kills a child every minute. It is a disease that must be stopped.

One of the most effective ways of tackling malaria is by preventing disease-carrying mosquitoes from biting people. The WHO recommends the use of long-lasting insecticidal nets and indoor residual spraying (IRS) to block the mosquito bite.

This is why members of the CropLife International vector control team – the companies that develop and manufacture vector-control products – are a major part of the global strategy to eradicate malaria.

Together these companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars and dedicated decades into research and development of new vector control products.

Today’s insecticide-treated, long-lasting bed nets have become one of the most powerful tools deployed in the fight against malaria. Recent research indicates that, on average, the use of insecticide-treated nets reduces malaria cases by up to 50 per cent. Over the past four years nearly 500 million nets have been delivered to sub-Saharan Africa.

Indoor residual spraying has been another important intervention against malaria where insecticides are used to coat the inside of houses to kill mosquitoes. When applied to 80 per cent of households in a community, IRS is highly effective. In 2012 135 million people were protected by IRS and 40 countries in the African region recommended its use for mosquito control.

There is no doubt that vector control is one of the best ways we have of winning the battle against malaria. As nets and sprays have been more widely used, incidences of malaria have fallen.

Between 2000 and 2012 global malaria mortality dropped by 42 per cent and a conservative estimate is that insecticides have helped to save at least three million children’s lives. But we must still do more as mosquitoes start to develop resistance to certain products.

This year, the theme for World malaria day was “Invest in the future. Defeat malaria”. We need to work collaboratively – through the public and private sectors – to ensure regulatory and financial hurdles are overcome so that new insecticide solutions are brought to the market to tackle the mosquito threat going forward.

The innovative vector control consortium (IVCC) has been an important organisation in encouraging new product development. IVCC is a product development partnership designed to overcome the barriers that can block innovation in the development of vector control products.

The work has been positive as our members have partnered with the IVCC to identify nine new classes of insecticides and three of these should be ready for market by 2022. Only if we work together can the battle against malaria be won for once and for all.

To highlight the role of companies that develop vector-control products we have launched a campaign called Block the Bite. This is about raising awareness of the industry contribution to vector-control – not just for malaria but also dengue fever, river blindness, yellow fever and others – through the development of innovative products and partnerships with NGOs, national governments, public health bodies and intergovernmental organisations.

 

About the author

Egon Weinmueller is Chair of the CropLife International vector control and vice-president and head of BASF’s global public health business.

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