JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - German drugmaker Bayer AG launched on Wednesday the world’s first combination indoor insecticide in Africa to help fight insecticide-resisant strains of malaria that have frustrated global attempts to stamp out the disease.
After several years of steady declines, annual cases of the mosquito-borne disease are leveling off, the World Health Organization’s 2018 malaria report showed in November.
The report showed around 435,000 deaths and 219 million malaria cases in 2017 worldwide, both little changed from 2016. Global case numbers fell steadily from 239 million in 2010 to 214 million in 2015, and deaths from 607,000 to around 500,000 from 2010 to 2013.
But the hard-won gains are being threatened by insecticide-resistant strains of mosquitoes.
“We know that insecticide resistance remains one of the biggest threats to eradicating malaria largely because of our reliance on a very limited number of insecticides,” Head of Global Vegetable Seeds and Environmental Science at Bayer, Jacqueline Appelgate, said at the launch.
Rising up to this challenge, Bayer has launched a combination indoor residual spray called Fludora Fusion, which combines neonicotinoid clothiandin with pyrethroid deltamethrin.
The product is sprayed onto walls inside a house and when a mosquito comes into contact with it, it is killed within 24-48-hours.
The insect typically alights on vertical structures, which is why inside walls have been a key focus of anti-malarial efforts, such as the spraying of DDTs on them.
“In the context of this urgent need for new modes of action in malaria vector control, Fludora Fusion represents a major step forward in eradicating malaria,” Appelgate added.
Malaria is a treatable disease if it is caught early, but current antimalarial drugs are failing in many areas due to increasing drug resistance.
Reporting by Nqobile Dludla, editing by Louise Heavens