Company Donates 330,000 Bed Nets to Help Fight Malaria in Africa

3rd Gift from Sumitomo Chemical for Millennium Villages


NEW YORK, April 7, 2014—Sumitomo Chemical Company, Limited of Japan will donate 330,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to the Millennium Villages Project, the third round of such donations by the manufacturer toward the goal of demonstrating that malaria deaths can be  eradicated across Africa.

“Thanks to the partnership with Sumitomo Chemical and the donation of insecticide treated nets, all sleeping sites in each household in the Millennium Villages are covered with Olyset® nets,” said Prof Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University. “The value of mass distribution of anti-malaria nets was proved in the Millennium Villages with the help of Sumitomo Chemical.  Now it is global policy.  Sumitomo Chemical’s vision and engineering excellence helped to pave the wave for an Africa-wide breakthrough.”

The Millennium Villages Project operates in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, assessing and addressing the needs of poor rural residents, from energy, water and agriculture to health, education and business development. The project was established to demonstrate how very low income countries can reach all of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals – among them eradicating extreme poverty, improving access to clean water and sanitation, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, reducing disease and expanding education.Malaria is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and a contributor to chronic poverty in rural regions. The frequent bouts of the disease keep adults from working, kills young children and also keeps young students from attending school; and poverty in turn hampers treatment and prevention. Preventing this killer disease is a key part of the Millennium Village Project’s multi-sector approach to combatting extreme poverty.

Sumitomo Chemical’s engagement with the Millennium Villages began in 2006, when the company donated over 330,000 of its Olyset nets to the Millennium Villages resulting in significant declines in the burden of malaria in the rural communities. This experience encouraged many national governments and the WHO to make mass, free, universal bed-net distribution a matter of public policy.  The company donated another 400,000 insecticide treated nets in 2010. The new round of bed nets is worth an estimated $2 million, the company says. The Earth Institute is covering the cost of transport of the nets from source to each of the sites in the ten countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

“On average, three to four nets are provided to each household,” said Awash Teklehaimanot, director of the Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases Program at The Earth Institute, Columbia University. “The nets are distributed by Community Health Workers, and their utilization is regularly monitored. The rate of utilization by children under 5 years of age and pregnant women is in the order of 70 percent to 90 percent.  Their use is encouraged by the Community Health Workers, especially at times of high danger of malaria transmission.”

The new nets will replace old ones that are torn and will be provided as additional bed nets to households where family size---and thereby number of sleeping sites---have increased. New nets will also be provided to new households within the MVP sites. The MVP also includes a comprehensive regimen for treatment of malaria, including the training of community health workers in using rapid diagnostic tests and providing appropriate medicines at the household when needed.

According to the UN, the battle against malaria is showing historic and unprecedented results, based on the strategies pioneered in the Millennium Villages. Malaria deaths of children in Africa are down by around half since 2000.

The impact of an integrated management of malaria which will include prevention by the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets in the Millennium Villages will be published in 2016 along with data and evaluation across all sectors of the project’s work.

“We at Sumitomo Chemical are proud of our long association with the Millennium Villages Project and our contribution to the remarkable success you have achieved in reducing malaria incidence in the Villages,” Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman, Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd., wrote in a letter to Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute. “It is a source of satisfaction to us to see that the accomplishments demonstrated in the Villages have led to the global initiatives to increase bed net coverage and the consequent reduction in malaria infections.”