By Sharon Atieno

Global bednet manufacturer, Vestergaard, has called for strategic partnerships to accelerate innovation in malaria bednets in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These sentiments were shared during a 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.

Michael Joos, Vestergaard’s Chief Executive Officer, observed that there is a need to bring to the market quickly new generation bednets with new insecticides, as they are playing a significant role when most malaria programs are being strained. The new insecticides to be used will help in fighting growing mosquito resistance, making the bednets more effective.

Michael Joos, Vestergaard’s CEO Photo credit: Vestergaard

“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,” Joos-whose company has manufactured over 800 million long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) -said.

“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.”

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.

The PermaNet manufacturer announced that they had now developed the technology to make bednets out of 100% recycled and upcycled material – without compromising on quality – making it possible to save lives, and the planet. Bednets and their packaging are predominantly made of polymer plastics -major pollutants to the environment.

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,” concluded Joos.