Magic mosquito net

March 24, 2012

World’s leading chemical company BASF and Grameen Healthcare Trust yesterday launched specially treated mosquito nets in Bangladesh.
Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus and BASF President for Asia Pacific Saori Dubourg jointly inaugurated the nets at the Social Business Industrial Park in Kashimpur upazila of Gazipur district.
Effective up to 20 washes, depending on local conditions, the fendozin-rich net would kill mosquitoes and other bugs within 20 minutes after they come in contact with it, said officials.
The nets are already available across the country and cost Tk 650 to 700 a piece.
The nets meet the requirements of the World Health Organisation and are “extremely safe” for humans and other mammals, said Saria Sadique, managing director of BASF Bangladesh.
The country’s first Long Lasting Impregnated Net (LLIN) plant, which has been set up in the industrial park, cost Tk 12.40 crore and has created jobs for 800 people.
The plant owned and operated by Grameen Fabrics and Fashions will manufacture the nets under the brand name Interceptor. BASF Grameen Ltd will market the product.
The plant can now produce up to 3,000 nets a day and its capacity would enhance in days to come, said Prof Yunus in his speech.
He said there would be three units under the plant. Of them one unit will be dedicated to export, should other countries feel interested about the product.
This plant will produce all the nets needed in Bangladesh, not for one or two districts. It has the capacity to take care of the whole country as far as malaria is concerned.
The specially treated mosquito nets are the first product of the joint venture between BASF and Grameen which aim at reducing insect-borne diseases and thus contributing to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals in the health sector.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Saori Dubourg said, “This is a moment of joy. I am happy that we have the chance to operate the plant today. This allows the people of Bangladesh to directly contribute to the safety to their families.”
Malaria kills around 800,000 people across the globe every year, she said, adding, “Yet malaria is preventable and curable in most places. The most cost effective way to achieve this is that every one in high prevalent areas uses the treated mosquito nets every night.”
Dubourg said BASF had provided the expertise and technical assistance and insect control.
She said it was a great opportunity for them to create the chemistry for a sustainable future. “And we look forward to closely work together with Grameen because we want to build a really long-lasting cooperation,” added Dubourg.
Prof Yunus said they planned to produce the mosquito nets for everybody’s use, since malaria is everywhere in the country. “One-third of the population of Bangladesh live in malaria-prone areas, but half the population is vulnerable to this disease.”
“This is a wonderful achievement,” he said, adding that BASF wanted to make their patent available for Bangladesh as the country is malaria-prone.
The banker to the poor hoped that the net would help eliminate malaria from this country.
“One of the commitments of the eight millennium development goals is to eliminate malaria or reduce it to a certain extent. We are very close, but yet to achieve this,” he added.
The Nobel Laureate urged all businesses to set up at least one social business, which would be a process of overcoming all the problems in the country. “We can use our creative minds to solve whatever problems we have by setting up social businesses.”
He said, “I encourage every business in Bangladesh to create a small social business. I emphasise the word ‘small’ so that you do not feel that it requires a lot of money. It takes a little effort and little money to start a tiny social business. Once you do that you will see the impact on the people and become more interested to do more.”
The BASF Grameen Ltd was formed in 2009 to improve the health and business opportunities of the poor in Bangladesh.
Saria Siddique said the nets are coated with the insecticide Fendona, a product of BASF and remains effective for several years.
Md Ashraful Hassan, managing director of Grameen Knitwear Ltd, said they would be able to double the production by the end of 2012. The second unit of the park would be ready by 2013, he added.
Holger Michael, German ambassador to Bangladesh, said it was a milestone and the words of BASF and Grameen had been followed by their deeds.
Ambassador of Japan Shiro Sadoshima was also present at the inaugural ceremony.
German-based BASF is the world’s leading chemical company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. It posted sales of about €73.5 billion in 2011 and had more than 111,000 employees as of the end of the year.

-With The Daily Star input

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