Targeted: Female mosquitoes transmit the malaria parasite. Picture: ISTOCK
Targeted: Female mosquitoes transmit the malaria parasite. Picture: ISTOCK

Lusaka -Kansai Plascon, owned by Tokyo-listed Kansai Paint, has launched the world’s first mosquito repellent paint in Zambia to help it reach a target to eliminate malaria by 2021, the company and a Japanese government official say.

Malaria, spread by mosquitoes, is a treatable disease if caught early, but current anti-malarial drugs are failing in many areas as people develop resistance to them.

A study done in the last two years in 400 households proved the paint is very effective and will not harm human beings

Zambia aims to eradicate malaria, the country’s biggest killer, within three years after deaths from the disease halved in 2017 from 2014, the government said.

The Japan International Co-operation Agency’s Zambia representative, Hanai Junichi, said the initiative is in partnership with Kansai. "A study done in the last two years in 400 households with Zambia’s ministry of health proved that the paint is very effective and is not harmful to human beings," he said.

While mosquito nets, prophylactics and spraying insecticide are still in use, the disease continues to account for more than 1-million deaths on the continent each year, the company said.

The paint technology disrupts the mosquito’s nervous system on contact, reducing its ability to remain on walls where the paint has been applied.

The insect typically alights on vertical structures, which is why inside walls have been a key focus of antimalarial efforts, such as the spraying of DDTs on them.

"The knock-down effect lasts for up to two years, offering lasting protection from malaria infection and other mosquito-borne diseases," Kansai said.

The world has made huge strides against malaria since 2000, with death rates plunging by 60% and at least 6-million lives saved globally, the World Health Organisation says.

But efforts to end one of the world’s deadliest diseases — it kills about 430,000 people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa — are under threat as mosquitoes become increasingly resistant to measures such as bed nets and drugs.

Reuters