To save lives by creating products that prevent disease is the mission of the Swiss-based company, Vestergaard-Frandsen. Examples of these devices include the LifeStraw, which turns dirty water into clean, preventing diseases like cholera, guinea worm and diarrhea. Another is a long-lasting insecticide-treated bednet, which prevents malaria. In this fifth of a five-part series we explore a product that also prevents malaria, as well as other diseases. It's an insecticide-treated plastic sheeting called "ZeroFly."
Mikkel Vestergaard-Frandsen, the company's chief executive officer, says it's used for emergencies like wars and natural disasters. The CEO says the ZeroFly plastic sheeting is four meters by five meters in size and made with a woven mesh. He describes its two uses, "We developed ZeroFly as a dual purpose tool; it functions as a shelter in emergency situations and it kills mosquitoes as they land on the shelter."
Vestergaard-Frandsen says the disease prevention part of the protective sheeting can save lives when more than just shelter is needed. For example, he says, if a war breaks out, a volcano erupts, or there's a flood, people run to a safer place than where they came from. But he says even if people escape disaster, they're still vulnerable to disease.
"Across sub-Saharan Africa – at least since the end of the cold war – in no war have you recorded more deaths from bullets and bombs than from parasites and bacteria. That makes ZeroFly so interesting, because it effectively has an impact on the second death peak. The second death peak is when you keep people alive in a crowded place such as a refugee camp and a malaria epidemic starts erupting," he says.
The C-E-O says ZeroFly is unique in this situation because it not only provides shelter but also protects against disease when people are at risk, in this kind of an emergency. Like some of the other company products, the insecticide is dispersed over a long period of time.
Vestergaard-Frandsen points out that ZeroFly is unique in its two-for-one design.
"The impressive thing, really, is that there is nothing else out there like it. There is nothing that is specifically designed for the acute phase of an emergency. There is huge potential for ZeroFly to change health management as we know it today."
If you'd like more information about Zero Fly and the other disease-preventing Vestergaard-Frandsen products, go to their website at www.vestergaard dash Frandsen dot 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. That website address again is www.v-e-s-t-e-r-g-a-a-r-d dash Frandsen dot com.