[Oct 16, 2007]

Tanzania-based A to Z Textiles plans to manufacture 11 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets by the end of this year, Anuj Shah, the company’s director, announced recently, the Arusha Times reports. Japan-based Sumitomo Chemical collaborated with A to Z in 2006 to establish a factory in Kisongo, Tanzania, to produce the ITNs, called Olyset Nets (Nkwame, Arusha Times, 10/15).

The World Health Organization has approved Olyset Nets for use over five years to prevent malaria. The nets are treated with the long-lasting insecticide permathrum, which is woven into the net’s fiber. Over time, the permathrum migrates from within the fiber to the surface of the net, ensuring that a new supply of insecticide is moving consistently to replace quantities rubbed off through use. Field testing indicated that Olyset Nets kill 92% of mosquitoes after three minutes of exposure, even seven years after manufacture. The nets are estimated to protect an entire family from malaria transmission for less than $2 annually (GlobalHealthReporting.org, 9/14/05).

According to Shah, the factory produced 8.5 million ITNs in 2006, but with “ongoing expansion of the facilities,” production will increase to 11 million by the end of 2007. The expansion will create an additional 1,000 jobs, bringing the total number of employees at the factory to 6,500, the Times reports.

Shah called on international donors to purchase ITNs produced by Africa-based manufacturers “as a way to stimulate growth and development.” He said that more than 90% of the 70 million ITNs required annually for malaria control in Africa are imported from China, Thailand and Vietnam, adding that the remaining 10% is supplied by A to Z and Sumitomo. “Taking into account that 90% of malaria cases occur in the African continent, there is an urgent need for [the] donor community to support the production and distribution of the lion’s share of 70 million mosquito nets in a bid to create employment opportunities, which will help towards poverty alleviation,” Shah said.

On a recent visit to the factory, Belgian Princess Astrid Sofia, who is the Roll Back Malaria global envoy, said it is “fascinating” that long-lasting ITNs are being “produced by Tanzanians,” adding, “I’m very much excited” (Arusha Times, 10/15).