Africa

Buzz off far, far away

 

A local company brought good news to a story that is getting better

 

Tsedale Lemma

 

On May 19, 2012 The Economist published a story that was hugely welcomed by development partners working with African countries. ‘African Child mortality: the best story in development,’ read the headline and detailed some of the remarkable declines in child mortality rates in selected Sub-Saharan African (SSA) counties including Ethiopia.

According to the story, 16 of the 20 countries which provided detailed surveys of their health status and living conditions since 2005 have reported dramatic falls in child-mortality, measured in the number of children under five per 1000 live births.  12 of these countries reported falls of over 4.4% a year.

The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) has set up a plan to reduce child mortality rate in SSA by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. Three years to go and the story of a 4.4% decline is, undeniably, a good one.

What made the story on The Economist more attractive was not only the good news in the decline of Africa’s child mortality rate, but the reason behind it: malaria. Most of the encouraging figures were registered thanks to a successful fight against malaria both by local governments and their development partners which are providing mosquito nets.

 The cost of a mosquito

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In the past malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum has been a major contributor to mortality in SSA. It comes as no surprise, therefore, recent decline in infection and disease rates in these countries – Senegal, Rwanda and Kenya—have seen falls of more than 8% a year – was due in large part to interventions that have seen massive distribution of mosquito nets in most parts of rural Africa.

Despite this encouraging news however, according to a 2011 report by Malaria Journal, “approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, and an estimated 243 million infected cases resulted in nearly 863,000 deaths in 2008.” 91% of the global malaria related deaths happen in SSA alone and 85% of the deaths occur amongst children below five years of age. Countries dubbed as malaria endemic such as Tanzania spend 40% of their public health in the fight against malaria.

So far most countries take the mosquito net solution as the best that can happen to prevent the spread of malaria and cut the cost of treating it.

That is about to change now

Green Plc Manufacturer, Import and Export Company is a local company that has recently started to market locally produced mosquito repellent jelly known us Buzz Off.  According to Gezaye Ambaye, managing director of Green PLC, his company is now preparing for Africa-wide distribution of the two mosquito repellent products locally produced by his company: Buzz Off 9390 and Buzz Off 9388.

Green PlC has received an endorsement from the Drug Administration and Control Authority of Ethiopia, a certificate of analysis from the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), and a recommendation from the Center for National Health Development in Ethiopia (CNHDE).

Quoting a report from Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology, CNHDE wrote in a letter dated in November 2006 that “both products have shown over 80% protection after 8 hours of application in the field against Anopheles Arabiansis, the principal vector of malaria in Ethiopia.”

CNHDE also approved the two products that the efficacy data on the repellent effect against the main malaria vector and culicine mosquitoes is in the “acceptable range recommended by World Health Organization (WHO)” that stipulates at least 80% protection for six-eight  hrs. In a laboratory taste conducted by ICIPE, the two types of Buzz Off showed over 90% of protection after eight hours.

Buzz Off even proves more useful when combined with insecticidal mosquito nets. A 2010 research conducted by Malaria Consortium Ethiopia office on effects of a combined use of mosquito repellent and insecticide treated net on Malaria in Ethiopia revealed that “the combined use of a mosquito repellent and long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) by household members would result in a 40% reduction in malaria prevalence compared with households that only use LLINs.”

 A malaria day

Every year on 25th April, the world observes World Malaria Day. It was first introduced in 2007 by the World Health Assembly at its 60th session and is dedicated to organize a “global effort to provide effective control of malaria.”   In Ethiopia this year’s malaria day was celebrated in Assosa town of Benishangul-Gumuz region on April 25. The motto was ‘Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria,’ and the event was organized by the Regional Health Bureau in collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, Malaria Consortium, and WHO.

In a letter dated on March 15, 2007, Malaria Consortium’s Country Director for Ethiopia Dr. Agonafer Tekalegn, wrote Green PLc was “one of the proactive members” of Coalition Against Malaria in Ethiopia (CAME) and is a manufacturer of Buzz Off “in order to contribute its best for the prevention of malaria in Ethiopia.”

In Assosa stadium during the celebrations Dr. Agonafer spoke about the need for partnership to tackle malaria in the country. Green PLC is taking that further into the continent and making the already improving story of malaria related mortality much better with its Buzz Off that is now in export to Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia and Ghana.

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