We’ve had a hard time finding design objects for MDG #6, the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria. As it turns out, the solution is extremely straightforward: every home in a developing country needs to have an insecticide-treated net (ITN) for mosquito-free sleep.
Bednets are the most effective way to prevent malaria, but millions of families in malaria-plagued countries do not have them. These nets, however, are not without room for improvement. Nets can be treated with insecticide, killing mosquitoes on contact and making it less likely that they can penetrate the nets. But the insecticide on traditional nets fades after 3-5 months, and most families won’t deal with the cost or hassle of getting their nets re-treated.
A to Z Textile Mills in Tanzania and Sumitomo Chemical in Japan teamed up to manufacture the Olyset Net, which retains its insecticide for 5 years, guaranteed – helping us make forward progress in slowing down malaria. They have also reduced the cost of a bednet from $7 to $5 and made them tear-proof by improving the weaving technique (pdf). Props especially for local production in Africa, thus reducing shipping costs to distribute the nets in the region that most needs them.
The Tanzania factory has created 3,200 jobs. Each net can safely sleep up to 3 people under it, and distribution is prioritized for children under 5 years old and pregnant women. Most of the nets are provided free of charge, as recommended by the World Health Organization, through aid programmes like Roll Back Malaria and UNICEF.
George W. Bush visited the A to Z Textile Mills factory last year as part of his $1.2 billion, five-year program to reduce malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
- YouTube video of malaria, bednets, and A to Z Textile Mills.
- Acumen Fund research describing why we should donate and sell bednets to ensure accessibility and proper use.
- Time Magazine blurb listing this as one of the Coolest Inventions of 2004
Photo credits: ©MHallahan/Sumitomo Chemical – Olyset® Net for the first and third photos in this post. ©Charles Dharapak/The Associated Press for the photo depicting George W. Bush