Bednet development must progress as fast as mosquito’s resistance evolves
As World Malaria Day was marked across the globe, Global health company Vestergaard formed part of a panel to discuss lessons and opportunities in the fight against Malaria.
The three-part webinar series, hosted by The Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA) and its partners, highlighted how countries and businesses have adapted their health programmes in the battle against malaria in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting opportunities for collaboration to scale up malaria control efforts and impacts. Michael Joos, Chief Executive Officer of Vestergaard, said that long-lasting insecticidal nets are the backbone of malaria control programmes on which additional interventions are layered. With the pandemic causing a steep decrease in malaria diagnosis and treatment, this tool is more critical than ever before to avert malaria deaths.
“COVID-19 has placed significant pressures on malaria programs. The humble bednet is quite literally holding-up the fort”, said Joos. “However, growing mosquito resistance to insecticides used on bednets are also making them less effective. New generation bednets with new insecticides must be brought to market quickly,” he continued.
There is a significantly higher level of complexity involved in the R&D process, the polymer science and the manufacturing of new generation bednets. A renewed engagement between private sector, donor organisations and malaria programmes of endemic countries can help mitigate the risks and costs involved. “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,” advised Joos. “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,” he said.