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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Sunday 25 April is World Malaria Day

Continuing the fight against malaria in a global pandemic

Sunday 25 April is World Malaria Day – a day when we have the opportunity to thank all health workers, researchers, malaria control programmes and organisations fighting against the disease.

Malaria remains a leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. Every year, the vector-borne disease kills an estimated half a million people worldwide. In the past decade, there have been significant efforts to prevent and control malaria and several countries have even managed to eliminate the disease.

To do so, long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) have proven to be one of the most important interventions to control and prevent malaria cases, and are credited for close to 70% of the averted malaria cases in Sub-Saharan Africa since the start of the millennium.

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a steep decrease in malaria diagnosis and treatment, this tool is more critical than ever before to protect people against malaria. COVID-19 has placed significant pressures on malaria programmes and the humble bed net is quite literally ‘holding up the fort’. In order to ensure the continuity of malaria control programmes, functioning supply chains, quality protection and strategic partnerships are crucial.

A major manufacturer of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), Vestergaard’s focus, at the onset of the pandemic, was to prevent any disruption to the supply chains by protecting the health of the workers and securing the resources necessary for the production of bed nets.

New machinery to triple the production capacity of next-generation PBO nets was also installed to meet the growing demand and help tackle the challenge of mosquitoes’ growing resistance to insecticides.

However, the distribution of bed nets is not the only urgent issue. Quality is also key for the optimum protection. At Vestergaard, we believe that means supplying nets that can be trusted to perform as intended for their intended lifetime.

LLINs, mosquito nets with insecticide incorporated within or bound to the fibres, are a simple, affordable and effective tool in the fight against malaria – if they remain in good condition and retain their biological activity for their estimated 2-3-year lifespan. It is crucial that the malaria community invests in the development of better tools to evaluate bed net performance in the field and in post-market surveillance activities, especially for the new generation of bed nets.

In addition to ensuring only quality bed nets are supplied to populations at risk, there is also tremendous value in developing strategic partnerships for a more durable and sustainable impact. Vestergaard strongly believes that it is essential for the public and private sector to work hand-in-hand in order to move closer to a world free of malaria. There is much to gain from closer collaborations to ensure:

  • improved impact thanks to additional data generation that can inform the development and deployment of new malaria prevention tools
  • new, more effective bed nets can be deployed faster, at a lower cost and on a larger scale to reach more people affected by malaria
  • reduced environmental impact from net manufacturing and delivery.

Despite the many challenges the global community is currently facing, this critical work against malaria must continue. It is our joint responsibility to maintain high levels of protection against malaria for those who need it most during the COVID-19 pandemic – and in the years and decades to come.

By Michael Joos, CEO of Vestergaard

23rd April 2021

From: Healthcare

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