World Malaria Day is marked worldwide each year on 25 April, to raise awareness and mobilize political and financial support for prevention and control of malaria. The day also highlights achievements towards a malaria-free world. ‘Zero malaria starts with me’ is the theme for 2020 World Malaria Day. It is a call for individual action to eradicate malaria.
Sub-Saharan Africa bears the greatest burden of malaria. In 2018, 93% of all the malaria cases were in Sub-Saharan Africa, with pregnant women and young children affected most by the disease. Therefore, the call to action, ‘Zero malaria starts with me’ is more relevant for the people in Sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world. In response to this call to action, we share our contribution to achieving zero malaria through a BioInnovate Africa supported project on plant-made products for malaria prevention. A partnership between University of Burundi, Karire Products (Burundi) Limited and other partners in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the initiative is delivering herbal based mosquito repellent products for control of malaria. Founder and director of Karire Products Limited, Ms Ginette Karirekinyana, explains below her motivation to achieving a malaria-free world:
What is the mission of Karire Products Limited?
I started the business in 2011 because of rising malaria infections in Burundi and loss of lives due to the disease. The business combines both traditional knowledge and modern science to develop natural and safer products to prevent malaria. Essential oils are extracted from locally grown plants to produce mosquito repellents in the form of soaps, sprays, and lotions.
What has been the contribution of your business in the control of malaria?
We sensitise the community and create awareness about malaria and its prevention. We contract smallholder farmers to grow Catnip, Artemisia and other plants, which we buy and use to make environmentally friendly malaria-prevention products. The products are sold in the community at affordable prices and we serve 30-to-60 clients in a day, with 65% being women. The business has also created job opportunities for the community members. We have 20 employees,15 of them are women. With the support of BioInnovate Africa, we are improving the quality of our products and expanding the business by building a bigger factory that will produce enough malaria repellent products to supply eastern Africa region and beyond.
How can people in Burundi and Africa at large participate in achieving zero malaria?
With most mosquito bites happening indoors at night, people should sleep under a mosquito net in addition to using repellents to prevent malaria. Political leaders and other influential members of the society can take part in raising awareness and ownership about malaria prevention, testing, and care among communities. Have more partnerships and increase resource that support innovations to prevent and control malaria.