Fighting Malaria

Special Report: Mosquito Control - Special Report: Mosquito Report

World Malaria Day is April 25. Here’s a review of what some groups — including those in the pest management industry — are doing to fight this threat to public health around the world.

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March 5, 2021

Nothing But Nets, thanks to its donors and partners, provided 50,000 bed nets to various communities in Ecuador in 2018 to support malaria-elimination efforts.

What is your favorite part of the day? With a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son, my favorite part of the day is when I’m able to put my kids to bed at night. When I am finally able to say goodnight and leave them to (hopefully) sleep peacefully, it is a relief. We have survived another day and my children will be safe.

For billions of people around the world, a child’s bedtime routine may not be a source of peace and relaxation. Roughly half the world’s population is at risk of malaria, a deadly but entirely preventable disease transmitted through the bite of an infected anopheles mosquito. The mosquito is the world’s deadliest creature, responsible for more than 470,000 deaths each year, more than 85 percent of those due to malaria. While the mosquito may not be a particularly strong flier, it is excellent at transmitting diseases like malaria, as well as dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

In recognition of the mosquito’s impact on public health, each year the global health community acknowledges World Malaria Day on April 25. The World Health Organization created World Malaria Day in 2007 to highlight global malaria control efforts and celebrate progress in the fight against malaria. And there is much to celebrate. Since 2000, enhanced malaria control efforts have saved nearly 8 million lives and prevented nearly 1.5 billion cases of malaria. Progress, however, has stalled in recent years, in part due to widespread mosquito resistance to commonly used insecticides applied to bed nets and sprayed in homes.

At Nothing But Nets, we collaborate with a number of pest control, agriculture and pharmaceutical partners that are working together towards the common goals of overcoming insecticide resistance, saving lives and eradicating vector-borne diseases within our lifetimes. These companies are developing the next generation of diagnostic tests, treatments, indoor residual sprays and nets, and distributing on a massive global scale, often with minimal, if any, profit. These new products are paramount to overcoming the widespread challenge of “resistance management” in vector control — i.e., the mosquito’s ability to adapt and develop resistance to prior insecticides, along with the malaria parasite’s adaptation to malaria drugs. Two companies we’ve worked with recently are Bayer and Vestergaard:

  1. Bayer — This spring, Bayer is partnering with the MENTOR Initiative and Nothing But Nets to fight malaria in refugee camps across northern Nigeria. Bayer is donating 15,500 units of Fludora Fusion, a long-lasting dual-action indoor residual spray formulated to overcome insecticide resistance. Fludora Fusion will be used to protect an estimated 387,000 displaced persons across northern Nigeria.
  2. Vestergaard — Committed to the fight against malaria for nearly three decades, Vestergaard’s Permanet 3.0 overcomes insecticide resistance with a piperonyl butoxide compound that blocks the enzymes resistant mosquitoes produce.

Bayer and Vestergaard are but two examples of innovative companies constantly developing products and compounds to address malaria and save lives. And it’s not just products that are making a big impact in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.

PMP INVOLVEMENT. Several pest control companies have built creative partnerships with Nothing But Nets that, through both employee and customer engagement initiatives, have helped protect hundreds of thousands of families from malaria. They include Aptive, Mosquito Joe and Adam’s Pest Control.

  1. Aptive — Utilizing a convenient app, new Aptive (Provo, Utah) customers have the option to donate when signing up for their pest control service. This technology integration has led to more than 75,000 customer donations in the last three years that have protected more than 275,000 people.
  2. Mosquito Joe — Leveraging our shared messaging around the harmful impact of mosquitoes, Mosquito Joe holds its “Beat the Bloodsuckers” campaign during Mosquito Control Awareness week in June. During “Beat the Bloodsuckers,” participating franchisees donate $10 (two bed nets) for each new customer receiving their first treatment during Mosquito Control Awareness Week. One franchise picked up over 200 new customers while protecting over 900 people from malaria in just one week during this promotion.
  3. Adam’s Pest Control — For every mosquito treatment purchased, Adam’s donates two nets ($10) to protect four people. In two seasons of partnering with Nothing But Nets, Adams (Medina, Minn.) has protected 3,000 people from malaria.

It doesn’t matter whether you are national or local, all pest management professionals can make a difference for families at risk of malaria while engaging your employees, customers and community. Collective action from the global malaria community has seemingly prevented a global surge of malaria cases and deaths caused by COVID-19-related challenges; but the pandemic continues to disrupt malaria supply chains, product distributions and access to health centers on a large scale. This World Malaria Day, think about how you can make a difference to help protect children from this preventable disease and give parents peace of mind at the end of a long day.

The author is a partnerships officer at Nothing But Nets, United Nations Foundation.