This month, Vestergaard marks the manufacturing of its one billionth PermaNet® long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and will convene two high-level meetings at the UNHQ around the United Nations General Assembly.
The first event Vestergaard is hosting is a media briefing on the morning of the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage Day, to re-energise the fight to eliminate malaria. The company has convened global, national, and local leaders at the frontline of the fight against malaria to discuss the critical inflection points that changed the global fight to end malaria, ensuring health for all. The panel discussion is titled: The Next Billion Mosquito Nets – How to Make Every Bed Net Count.
The discussions, moderated by CNN reporter Van Jones, include panellists Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate, The Honourable Minister of Health, Nigeria, Olivia Ngou, Executive Director of Impact Santé Afrique and Hui C. Yang, Head of Supply Operations, The Global Fund as well as Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, Owner and Board Member of Vestergaard and the company’s new Chief Executive Officer, Amar Ali.
The second event will recognise the multiple partnerships that helped the company achieve this important milestone and recommit Vestergaard’s innovation and supply chain platform to the fight against malaria. Confirmed speakers include Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, Dr David Walton, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator Presidents Malaria Initiative, Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), and Charlize Theron, Founder of the Africa Outreach Project and UN Messenger of Peace.
Vestergaard, a public health company, is recognised for leading the development and rapid scale-up of the deployment of the LLIN, which removed the need for end users to repeatedly re-treat their nets – representing one of the most significant changes in the global efforts to eradicate malaria in the past 25 years. Vestergaard was also among the first to raise the alarm against insecticide resistance and invest in the innovation of next-generation LLINs.
Long-lasting insecticidal nets have been credited with 68% of averted malaria cases in Africa since 2000 (1), saving more than 11.7 million lives (2). According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), LLINs have been associated with sharp decreases in malaria in countries where malaria programmes have achieved high LLIN coverage (3).
Mikkel Vestergaard, Founder of Vestergaard, comments, “A billion nets is an important milestone for us, but we will not rest until malaria is eliminated. When we entered the fight against malaria in 2000, 1.3 million people, mainly children, were dying yearly. Last year, that number was 627,000, and an estimated 68% of households in sub-Saharan Africa had at least one bed net. There were key inflection points that supported this achievement: the development and scaling-up of the LLINs, which eliminated the need for frequent re-treatment, the integration of child health services, the adoption of universal access policies, the rise of mega-donors and goal-oriented leadership and advocacy”.
“Whilst the mortality rate has halved, too many people are still dying from malaria because it is utterly preventable. While the challenge ahead is enormous, the opportunity is even greater. As we prepare to distribute our 1 billionth net, we are convening two high-profile events around UNGA to celebrate other pioneers and champions who have made this achievement possible. We will mobilise malaria stakeholders and reinvigorate progress towards malaria elimination.”
However, with nearly half of the world’s population still at risk of malaria, the challenge ahead remains enormous. Vestergaard played a pivotal role in the transformative shift from traditional treated nets to LLINs and from LLINs to LLINs with impact on insecticide-resistant mosquitoes. Vestergaard’s latest generation of nets, PermaNet Dual, were strongly recommended by the WHO in March 2023 for their improved performance in preventing malaria in adults and children in areas where mosquitoes have become resistant to pyrethroids (4).
Amar Ali, Chief Executive Officer at Vestergaard, said, “As the leading manufacturer of mosquito nets, we have a responsibility to find ways to overcome the urgent global challenge of filling the funding gap, recently estimated as $1 billion. Finding cost-saving solutions and harnessing digital health platforms, or doing more with less, is vital to ensuring we maximise the value of each bed net distributed. “
Vestergaard is committed to positively impacting the world by innovating and scaling up new generations of bed nets to combat the evolution of the parasite that causes the disease. The company is engaging in a new operating model and a volume guarantee agreement with The Global Fund that will secure better prices for over 65 million PermaNet Dual and expand coverage of these more effective nets. The deal has been achieved by driving wider efficiencies and reducing the complexities of supply with advanced and simplified procurement deals.
Amar Ali added: “The time to act is now. Funding has stagnated, mosquitoes have become increasingly resistant to insecticides, and the impact of climate change could accelerate the resurgence of malaria in many parts of the world. This is a poignant reminder of the need for closer working relationships across the ecosystem and a renewed commitment to our shared mission.
“We are thrilled to reach this milestone of one billion nets sold. We are grateful to our customers, partners and employees for their trust and support. We will continue to work hard to provide our customers with the best mosquito nets and services and make a difference in the world.”
- Bhatt S, Weiss DJ, Cameron E, Bisanzio D, Mappin B, Dalrymple U, et al. The effect of malaria control on Plasmodium falciparum in Africa between 2000 and 2015. Nature. 2015; 526(7572): 207-211. Available from: doi: 1038/nature15535.
- President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). 17th Annual Report to Congress[Internet]. PMI; 2023 Available from: https://d1u4sg1s9ptc4z.cloudfront.net/uploads/2023/05/USAID_PMI_2022_Report_
pdf [Accessed 2023 September 4].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Insecticide-Treated Bed Nets [Internet]. CDC; 2019. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/malaria_
worldwide/reduction/itn.html [Accessed 2023 September 4].
- World Health Organization (WHO). WHO publishes recommendations on two new types of insecticide-treated nets [Internet]. WHO; 14 March 2023. Available: https://www.who.int/news/item/14-03-2023-who-publishes-recommendations-on-two-new-types-of-insecticide-treated-nets [Accessed 2023 September 4].