East Africa: Region to Get Cheaper Mosquito Nets

Elias Biryabarema | 13 Feb 2008
Monitor (Kampala)

High quality mosquito bed nets, long unaffordable to millions of poor people in Uganda and the East African region could now become affordable following the commissioning of a factory in Arusha last week.

The manufacturing plant will be producing 10 million bed nets a year, branded, Olyset Net. This will effectively terminate the need to import nets from Asia.

The plant, a $25 million investment, was a result of a royalty-free technology transfer from a Japanese corporation, Sumitomo Chemical and a Tanzanian textile company, A to Z.

Sumitomo CEO, Yonekura San said their investment in the venture was inspired by a need to find more urgent and cheap ways of stemming the malaria scourge. Olyset Net is the only insecticide-treated net with a World Health Organisation recommendation.

He said Africa is losing $12 billion worth of GDP every year from depressed productivity due to Malaria.

Mr Ali Mohammed Shein, Tanzania's Vice President, said Malaria was accounting for 30 per cent of the country's disease burden and predicted a drastic reduction in malaria accounts as treated bed nets become affordable.

A WHO official, Mr Pierre Guillet, said manufacturing the nets locally would make them highly competitive against cheap but low-quality Chinese brand circulating the African market. He said the nets would be easily recycled thus cutting back on any potential adverse environmental impact.

A to Z CEO, Anuj Shah described the technological collaboration between his company and Sumitomo as "unique and revolutionary," and noted that the efficacy of the Olyset Net in warding off malaria had been proven through long and rigorous trials.

Mr Shah said Uganda's Ministry of Health has already approached the company for a possible supply of nets.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200802121112.html