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Malaria nets are failing in Africa warns leading expert

by Ian Mitchelmore. Published Sun 28 Jul 2013 12:44

A British leading expert on malaria has revealed insecticides used on nets in Africa are failing because no new repellents have been developed for 25 years.

At the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, which has been awarded higher education institution status, Prof. Janet Hemingway CBE spoke about tackling the deadly disease.

There could be millions of deaths if nets used to protect children and adults are not coated with more resistant chemicals to deter mosquitos.

The 115 year-old research centre is working with The Gates Foundation to develop new insecticides because the problem was ignored by big pharma for decades.

Using a $100m grant, Prof. Hemingway estimates that with advances in malaria preventative chemicals the lives of 120,000 children under five will be saved.

She said: "At the moment the insecticide on the nets is a classical pyrethroids that's been around for the last 30 years.

"The level of profit you can make from a public health insecticide is relatively small.

"Industry under it's own guises hasn't actually developed any new insecticide for public health for the past 25 years.

"So about eight years ago, we persuaded The Gates Foundation that they should fund a programme for us to work with industry to develop insecticide for public health.

"We began working with manufacturers and although it will be a little while before we've got new insecticides coming through.

"However, we have several means of improving the performance of those nets using the original pyrethroids by adding a second ingredient.

"That will ensure that those nets will keep working for the next few years.

"Normally with nets you give a child or a family an insecticide impregnated net and it should last for five years.

"Even if you get holes in it the insecticide protects the child or adult sleeping underneath it.

"Obviously, if that insecticide fails as soon as that net gets any more holes in it as soon as the mosquito goes through it it will bite and transmit malaria.

"With the new generation of nets coming we will continue to save lives and we have saved about a million lives over the scale of this programme.

"But those gains are to be lost if those nets stop working."

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) are now able to receive funding directly from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Since 1898, LSTM has worked to find cures and preventative methods against infectious, debilitating and disabling diseases.

It has a teaching programme which attracts students from more than 65 countries.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "This announcement is another step towards creating a diverse and vibrant higher education sector.

"I congratulate Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine on this important achievement which will allow them to expand and build on their already excellent reputation globally."


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"Once again - try thinking outside the box! You don't need to kill mosquitoes right away so you don't need to use insecticides!" Bruce Alexander, Xeroshield, Roslin around 1 year, 12 months ago

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