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Kemri exploring safer chemicals for mosquito nets

Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) is conducting a study seeking to improve the lifespan and safety of chemicals used in the treatment of mosquito nets in the country as part of the war against malaria.

The research body is exploring use of a new technology to improve the longevity of natural pyrethrins (biodegradable organic chemicals) so that the country can phase out use of the more harmful pyrethroids, which pack more persistently toxic chemicals in bed nets.

If the studies are successful, use of these new chemicals could boost efforts by the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to reduce deaths caused by the country’s number two killer, which claimed 16,000 lives last year.

The study is in line with the push by Health chiefs in malaria-prevalent counties who want Government to register biodegradable chemicals for use in indoor residual spraying (IRS) of households and other public structures to contain the malaria-carrying parasite.

These calls come even as IRS, which stopped in 2013 due to growth of resistance by mosquitoes to the chemical used between 2007 and 2012, has been reintroduced in Migori and Homa Bay by the NMCP using a new chemical formulation known as Actellic CS 300.

Head of NMCP, Waqo Ejersa, said they were procuring the highly priced chemical at subsidised costs from partner States.

The chemical has been used to spray 260,000 structures in Migori between February and March and would be used in Homa Bay next year.

The NMCP has set aside Sh900 million from the US Government-backed President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) for purchase of insecticide treated nets. It is part of the Sh3.4 billion PMI has given Kenya for intervention in two high-burden counties (Migori and Homa Bay) in 2017. 

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