Global health commitment

Tools to help eradicate disease

At Vestergaard, we think about more than just the end product. For more than two decades, our innovation team has focused on scientific research and partner engagements with the long-term goal of reducing the burden of vector borne disease and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

Our key partnerships and ground-breaking tools have allowed us to support global health efforts to eradicate malaria, sleeping sickness and Guinea worm. And we continue to look for new, innovative ways to improve global health through stakeholder engagement, supply chain improvements, and research and innovation.

Disease eradication

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Malaria

Malaria is among the oldest diseases with its origins dating back to the prehistoric period. While it has been eradicated and eliminated in many countries, it continues to plague many low- and middle-income countries, reducing a society’s chance to prosper and develop.

Malaria kills more than 400,000 people each year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. The most vulnerable age group are children under five, which accounted for 67% of all malaria deaths worldwide in 2018. Malaria in pregnancy compromises the mother’s health and puts her at greater risk of death. It also impacts the health of her fetus, which can lead to premature birth and low birth weight, both major contributors to neonatal and infant mortality. Malaria burdens fragile health systems and is estimated to cost malaria-endemic nations up to $12 billion in lost productivity every year. Malaria deaths are not decreasing at the rate they once were, primarily due to increasing insecticidal resistance. Nevertheless, the Lancet Commission on Malaria Eradication believes malaria eradication is possible within a generation with the right tools and strategies and sufficient funding.

PermaNet®: impactful technologies against malaria

  • Vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission. Our long-lasting insecticidal bednets (LLINs) pincorporate insecticide into the fabric to repel mosquitoes or kill them on contact. Designed to save lives, these nets provide effective protection even in areas of insecticide resistance.
  • IR Mapper is an online database and interactive mapping tool supported by Vestergaard and is freely available to the global public health community. It is the most comprehensive online tool for mapping insecticide resistance in malaria vectors. It consolidates reports onto filterable maps in order to guide the deployment of the most effective insecticidal tools in the right places.

Innovation

According to the WHO, less than 1% of health R&D funding currently goes to developing tools against malaria. Of that funding, only 6% goes towards developing vector control products. Vestergaard decided to help fill this gap. In 2011, the Vestergaard-Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research at the University of Ghana was created as a way to accelerate malaria elimination through R&D. The insectary has a high production capacity of more than one million mosquitoes per year, while its bioassay lab conducts testing on all types of LLIN samples and other treated materials. In 2019 we continued our efforts to develop new, innovative tools, focusing on LLINs which are urgently needed to address the growing threat of insecticide resistance, to prevent malaria and to save lives.

Public-Private Partnerships

Vestergaard is a valued partner to the United Nations, aid agencies, governments and NGOs. We have been an active member of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria since its creation in 1998 and have taken a leadership role on issues such as innovative financing and governance. Vestergaard is also a member of the Business Alliance Against Malaria as well as a private sector advisor to the board of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

PermaNet® contribution

Since the early 2000s, we have produced more than 800 million long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs).

With at least 2 people sleeping under a net, we estimate that PermaNet® has protected more than 1.6 billion people.

Read more about PermaNet® in the link below.

Learn more
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Sleeping sickness

Sleeping sickness, or trypanosomiasis, is a vector-borne disease transmitted by tsetse flies that threatens millions of people in 36 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Rural populations that rely on agriculture, fishing and animal husbandry are the most exposed to the tsetse fly and therefore the disease.

The challenge with sleeping sickness lies in its complexity. There are no clinical signs specific to the disease, which makes it difficult to diagnose. If left untreated, sleeping sickness usually results in death. Currently, there is no vaccine or medicine that can prevent the disease so its management relies on vector control, diagnosis and treatment. For the past 20 years, Vestergaard has supplied long-lasting vector control tools to combat sleeping sickness.

Tiny Targets: A partnership to eliminate sleeping sickness

  • In 2017, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and Vestergaard developed Tiny Targets, a cost-efficient tool to control the vector transmitting sleeping sickness. They consist of a piece of blue insecticide-treated fabric mounted on a stick and placed alongside rivers and other bodies of water where tsetse flies congregate.
  • An international team of researchers determined that tsetse flies were attracted to a particular blue colour. Our role was to then develop and manufacture various types of screens, traps and targets impregnated with the biodegradable insecticide, deltamethrin, that would attract tsetse flies to the blue-coloured material that would then trap and/or kill them upon contact.
  • Tiny Targets have been a huge success; early monitoring suggested they were able to reduce the fly population by around 90%.
  • To date, Tiny Targets have protected an estimated 1.7 million people at risk of contracting sleeping sickness, contributing to the WHO goal of reducing incidence of the disease to less than 2,000 globally.
  • At the WHO Global Partners Meeting on Neglected Tropical Diseases in 2017, Vestergaard pledged to donate Tiny Targets and work closely with partners and stakeholders to achieve the elimination of sleeping sickness. By 2019, Vestergaard had donated nearly 548,000 Tiny Targets, covering parts of Uganda, Chad, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire (through the Trypa-NO! Partnership(5)) and parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (through the Tryp-Elim Project).
  • Vestergaard manufactures other ZeroFly® products using textiles impregnated with insecticide, including ZeroFly® Storage Bags, which farmers can use to safely store grains, seeds and pulses.
ZeroFly® Tiny Target contribution

Since 2000, nearly 1.9 million ZeroFly® Screens, Targets and Traps are keeping tsetse flies from infecting humans and animals with sleeping sickness disease.

Between 1999 and 2019, the number of reported new cases of human African trypanosomiasis fell by 97%, from 27 862 to 864.

Read about the Trypa-NO! partnership in the link below.

Learn more
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Guinea worm disease

Guinea worm disease is a parasitic infection caused by the nematode roundworm parasite Dracunculus medinensis. It is contracted when people consume water from stagnant sources contaminated with the Guinea worm larvae.

Inside a human’s intestine, Guinea worm larvae mate and female worms can grow to up to three feet long. After about a year, the worm creates a painful lesion on the skin and slowly emerges from the body. Guinea worm sufferers often seek relief from the burning sensation caused by the emerging worm by immersing their limbs in water sources. This contact with water stimulates the emerging worm to release its larvae into the water, beginning the cycle of infection all over again. Once the worm begins to emerge from a person’s body, the rest of the worm can only be pulled out a few centimetres each day by winding it around a piece of gauze or small stick. This process usually takes weeks. If the worm is not completely removed, or breaks during removal, it can cause intense inflammation, pain and swelling, and potential secondary bacterial infections and resulting complications. In addition to the intense pain, Guinea worm disease incapacitates people for extended periods of time, making them unable to care for themselves, work, grow food for their families or attend school. To this day, there is no vaccination or treatment for Guinea worm disease, yet much work has been done to prevent it though education and the provision of safe drinking water.

Vestergaard & the Carter Center Partnership

  • The Carter Center has been the leading organisation in the fight against Guinea worm. In 1996, Vestergaard began working with The Carter Center when the company created LifeStraw® Guinea Worm.
  • LifeStraw® Guinea Worm filter is a plastic pipe with a stainless steel mesh that filters out Guinea worm larvae from contaminated water. It has been a vital tool in global efforts against the disease and has provided inspiration for the award-winning LifeStraw® point-of-use water filters that followed.
  • With only 53 reported cases of Guinea Worm in 2019, the disease could become only the second in human history — after smallpox — to be completely eradicated.
LifeStraw® contribution

In 1986, an estimated 3.5 million people in 21 countries in Africa and Asia had Guinea worm disease.

In 2020, there were 27 cases.

Since 1994, over 38 million LifeStraw® have been donated to the Carter Center.

The partnership is now managed by LifeStraw®. Visit the link below for more information.

Learn more

References

  1. Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND). Elimination of sleeping sickness moves a step closer to reality with $7.5 million award to extend ongoing Trypa-NO! programme. Available from: https://www.finddx.org/newsroom/pr-04dec19/ [Accessed 8 October 2020]. 
  1. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LTSM). Use of Tiny Targets to control tsetse flies in Gambian HAT foci:_ standard operating procedures (Edition 27 October 2016). Available from: https://www.tsetse.org/sites/lstm-tsetse/files/content/attachments/2018-05-09/FinalisedSOPEnglishVersion-v01_0.pdf .
  1. Selby R, Wamboga C, Erphas O, Mugenyi A, Jamonneau V, Waiswa C, Torr SJ, Lehane M. Gambian human African trypanosomiasis in North West Uganda. Are we on course for the 2020 target? PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 2019;13(8): e0007550. Available from: doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007550 .
  1. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LTSM). Tiny Targets – Strengthening national tsetse control programmes in Uganda and DRC. Available from: https://www.lstmed.ac.uk/projects/tiny-targets-%E2%80%93-strengthening-national-tsetse-control-programmes-in-uganda-and-drc [Accessed 12 October 2020]. 
  1. Foundation for Innovative Diagnostics (FIND). Elimination of sleeping sickness moves a step closer to reality with US $7.5 million award to extend ongoing Trypa-NO! programme. Available from: https://www.finddx.org/newsroom/trypa-no-partnership-will-accelerate-elimination-of-sleeping-sickness-in-africa/ [Accessed 9 October 2020].