Vestergaard, a leader in the production of innovative and high-quality tools to improve healthcare in low and middle-come countries, has invested more than one million dollars in the fight against malaria in the country.
The amount was invested in research, construction of a laboratory for research into mosquito and malaria, and remuneration of the staff of the laboratory under the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) of the University of Ghana.
Chief Executive Officer of Vestergaard, Michael Joos, who disclosed this in an interview with the Ghanaian Times, after the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Vestergaard-NMIMR Vector Labs (VNVL), also known as the Vestergaard-Noguchi Vector Labs (VNVL), said “we will continue to invest in the fight against malaria and the next ten decades, we will invest another one million dollars to combat malaria in the country.”
Through research collaborations, VNVL have become vital to insecticide monitoring activities in Ghana and, as the battle against malaria intensifies across sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr Joos said Vestergaard was playing a key role in developing complex vector control tools to push the disease towards elimination.
“We believe that data generated in Africa should be for the benefit of the continent. It is our responsibility to ensure this locally-generated data serves as a guide for evidence-based decision making – both to optimise the quality of tools we innovate and for the interventions, endemic countries should consider,” he said.
Mr Joos said VNVL had trained 14 scientists, including six women and 15 university graduates, through the Ghana National Service Scheme, adding that most of the staff employed were graduates of Ghanaian universities, which demonstrated the success of the partnership with the VNVL in developing young scientists.
He said Vestergaard, with its headquarters in Switzerland, was known for the production of PermaNetlong-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) to prevent malaria, the company annually produce 800 million pieces of LLINs protected about 1.6 billion lives in malaria-endemic countries.
“Over its decade in existence, the laboratories have produced three publications, reared 4,068,208 mosquitoes and conducted more than 800,000 tests. These include stringent quality control tests of Vestergaard’s ground-breaking PermaNet long-lasting insecticidal nets, the monitoring of insectary colonies and wild mosquitoes for susceptibility, and studies on how different mosquitoes react to insecticides,” Mr Joos, said.
Dr Eleanore Sternberg at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), who oversees VNVL’s day-to-day operations, said, “It’s an exciting time in vector control. Everyone cares about getting rid of malaria and this partnership gives us a diverse group of people with different perspectives on how to do that.”
Dr Irene Ayi, Head of Parasitology at NMIMR said, “The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research sees its partnership with Vestergaard as complementary and innovative as it has strengthened and built the capacities of both institutions in the area of vector research and control towards the elimination of malaria and contributed immensely to science in general.”
The Head of the National Malaria Control Programme, Dr KeziaMalm, commended Vestergaard for the role the company was playing to support the fight against malaria in the country.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE