Creating products that save lives in the
developing world is the mission of a company based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Vestergaard Frandsen designs and manufactures devices that prevent diseases
such as cholera, guinea worm and malaria. In this second of a five-part feature
series, we learn about a longer-lasting treated bednet that helps prevent
malaria. Mark Grabowsky, an epidemiologist with the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA), based in Ottowa, says it's called a "PermaNet".
The advantage of longer-lasting treated nets
is that an insecticide that kills mosquitoes is applied in a way that doesn't
come off for an extended period of time and is safe for humans. He says, "The
PermaNet -- the long lasting bednets – now last up to three years. And recent
data suggest they last even longer than that, and so what happens is that
people are now free to wash these nets as many times as they want. They never
have to re-treat them with insecticide, and they retain their ability to both
repel and to kill mosquitoes, thereby protecting against malaria."
Grabowsky says this is especially important
for children because they are the most vulnerable. "The child is at high risk
of dying from malaria, say, in the first five years of life, so if a child can
get one of these bednets early in their life, when it lasts three years or
longer it can protect the child during the entire high risk period."
The medical specialist adds that the PermaNet
is the most widely used of its kind in Africa, but there are several other
manufacturers whose products are just as good.
says extensive studies in Africa in the form of clinical trials show that these
nets reduce the chance of getting malaria by 50 percent. And the more widely
the nets are distributed, the greater the benefit. "For example, we recently
discovered that in Rwanda, which had a national bednet campaign, every child
under the age of five and every pregnant woman was given a free bednet. And
within two months, deaths from malaria had fallen by 70 percent," he says.
epidemiologist says long lasting insecticide-treated nets are perhaps the best
malaria prevention strategy, though not foolproof. He says there are other
courses of action in addition to prevention, "If you use your bednet, there's
still the possibility that you might get malaria. [The bednet's] not a hundred
percent effective -- even though it's highly effective. So if you get a fever
which you think might be malaria, I encourage you to still go to the clinic,
and still seek help. And if you go to the clinic, most clinics will now have
highly effective drugs, much more effective than the drugs we had even five or
ten years ago."
says long lasting bednets are available in Africa at public health clinics and
that most governments have had national bednet campaigns -- or will have them
you'd like more information on the PermaNet bednets and other Vestergaard
Frandsen products that prevent disease, go to their website at www.vestergaard-frandsen.com. Vestergaard is spelled
v-e-s-t-e-r-g-a-a-r-d. And Frandsen is
spelled f-r-a-n-d-s-e-n. Once again that
website address is www.vestergaard-frandsen.com.