Big boost in war against malaria as resistant mosquitoes find their match

The war against malaria has received a big boost with the approval of a new chemical to be used in bed nets and indoor sprays that beats even “battle-hardened” mosquitoes.

The new chemical, called chlorfenapyr, has been proven to be lethal against mosquitoes that have developed resistance to the existing class of insecticides used in bed nets and indoor sprays in Kenya and many other countries to tackle malaria.

The World Health Organisation has approved the use of the lethal chemical in bed nets while its use in indoor spraying is undergoing final phases of evaluation.

The bed nets containing the chemical are expected to be available for use towards the end of the year in Kenya and other African countries depending on how long local registration processes take.

The new insecticide has been developed by German multinational BASF in a decade-long collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC).

In western Kenya, around Lake Victoria, malaria mosquitoes have started to develop resistance to the existing pyrethroid insecticides used in bednets and indoor spraying. The same scenario is unfolding in at least 60 other countries.

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This has threatened to cripple the battle against malaria which depends heavily on the two main methods of putting mosquitoes in check.

According to the Health ministry, at least 70% of the country’s 46 million population are at risk of malaria with the coastal areas and Lake Victoria region having the highest prevalence rates of 8 per cent to 27 per cent.

This is the first time in 30 years that a new class of insecticide is introduced in the battle against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Independent trials in Benin, Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Ivory Coast have proven the efficacy of the new chemical against insecticide-resistant mosquitoes.

Bed nets with the chemical will be available under the brand name “Interceptor G2” while indoor residual sprays will be branded “Sylando 240SC”. 

Medical entomologist Professor Hilary Ranson from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said in some countries, the local mosquito population has increased its level of resistance to insecticides 1,000-fold.

“It has been years since a new class of public health insecticide has appeared on the market. Alternatives are urgently needed,” she said.

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Head of BASF’s public health business Egon Weinmueller said the introduction of the new insecticide class that tackles insecticide-resistant mosquitoes strengthens the likelihood of eliminating Malaria in this generation.

Around the world, every two minutes a child dies from malaria and there are more than 200 million new cases every year.

Malaria is also a major cause of global poverty and its burden is greatest among the most vulnerable.

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