Bed nets treated with a novel class of insecticide reduced malaria infections by 46% among children between the ages of 6 months and 10 years in a randomized controlled trial in Benin, as published in The Lancet.
The trial was conducted as part of the New Nets Project, a massive effort co-financed by global health agencies Unitaid and the Global Fund and led by the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC). The project responds to the critical need for updated tools to combat growing mosquito resistance across Africa, where nearly all malaria infections and related deaths occur.
Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria. According to the 2022 World Malaria Report, almost 80% of malaria deaths occur in children under five, and most of the remaining deaths occur in children under 10 and pregnant women.
“Insecticide-treated bed nets are a cornerstone of the malaria response and have played a key role in averting billions of cases of malaria over the past two decades,” said Dr. Philippe Duneton, Executive Director of Unitaid. “But growing resistance is threatening our progress. Unitaid is extremely hopeful that these new bed nets will reignite the malaria response and reclaim the gains lost in recent years.”
“This new generation of mosquito nets, which reduces malaria cases in children under five by almost half [in a second consecutive pilot program], is a timely breakthrough that demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “The deployment of these highly efficient new nets at scale, together with other core malaria prevention tools like seasonal malaria chemoprevention, can help us protect people more efficiently and effectively and thus reverse recent setbacks in the fight against malaria.”
Enormous reductions in the malaria burden in the early part of this century are credited in large part to the massive deployment and use of bed nets across Africa. However, as mosquitoes have grown increasingly resistant to the insecticides used in those products, efficacy has dwindled, and this has contributed to slowing progress against malaria. With additional setbacks caused by disruptions and delays to services from the COVID-19 pandemic, the malaria response is in desperate need of new tools to kick-start progress.
The Interceptor® G2 bed nets used in the Benin study employ a new class of insecticides for combating mosquitoes – the first in more than 30 years. The nets serve a dual purpose: they create a physical barrier that protects those sleeping under them while long-lasting insecticides work to kill mosquitoes, dramatically reducing the number of malaria cases in affected communities.
Over the two-year study, the Interceptor® G2 nets delivered significantly improved protection from malaria compared to standard nets. Notably, this research, led by the Centre de Recherche Entomologique de Cotonou and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines, provides the last piece of scientific evidence needed for the World Health Organization to issue updated policy guidance, which is critical to influencing broad uptake of the new tools in countries affected by insecticide resistance.
The New Nets Project is an innovative partnership initiative that is working to address evidence gaps and establish a sustainable market for new nets. The project is running operational pilots across a range of contexts to determine the cost-effectiveness of the new products to support their broad uptake and evidence-based deployment.
The New Nets Project has already deployed over 35 million nets across 14 countries which account for nearly 70% of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide, providing protection to more than 60 million people so far. The countries covered include Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, and Rwanda.