Ekurhuleni plant helping to break down mosquito resistance to pesticides

22nd March 2013

By: Samantha Herbst

Creamer Media Deputy Editor


Font size: - +

Malaria continues to have a devastating effect on the African continent, not only in terms of mortality – claiming the lives of more than 600 000 Africans – but also in terms of the economy, causing the continent to suffer yearly economic losses of about $12- billion, which is equivalent to a continentwide gross domestic product yearly loss of 1.2%.

The mining industry is among those hardest hit, as an estimated 103-million, or 47%, of malaria cases represent victims in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Côte d’Ivoire, which all have a lucrative extraction industry – be it in mining or oil and gas.

“Malaria has quite a critical effect on mining production and does not discriminate between ordinary mineworkers or engineers. As a result, mining companies have an obvious economic interest in keeping malaria under control in the mines and in the mining community,” says global chemicals and pharmaceuticals company Bayer South Africa spokesperson Stephen Laufer.

He emphasises the significant impact of losing valuable production time, owing to employees or their family members contracting malaria, which can be avoided.

Bayer’s worldwide Environmental Science Division president and Bayer CropScience executive committee member Dr Gunnar Riemann agrees.

“The productivity of the mining industry relies heavily on the health of not only the people working for the industry but also their close family members,” he says, further pointing out that production is still compromised when a relative contracts malaria, as the affected employ- ee has to take time off to care for that relative.

“This is why it is so important to provide preventive protection,” he adds.

According to the latest international figures, malaria caused 660 000 deaths worldwide in 2010. Of this figure, 91% occurred in Africa, of which 86%, or about 516 000, were African children.

Half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria, with the disease classified as endemic in 104 countries.

“Malaria clearly still presents a massive challenge across the continent. However, we feel that, together with the aid community, multilateral organisations, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), government health authorities and communities across Africa, we can get this terrible disease under control using the right mix of innovative pesticide rotation and human ingenuity,” says country group manager for sub-Saharan Africa Sylvestre Jobic.

He explains that, although malaria can be successfully controlled by killing the mosquitoes transmitting the disease, these mosquitoes rapidly develop a resistance to standard pesticides.

In response to this problem, Bayer’s plant in Nigel, Ekurhuleni, has worked closely with the company’s Environmental Science division, in France, to develop products that will prevent malaria-bearing mosquitoes from building a resistance to pesticides.

Part of Bayer’s active vector control management method combines the company’s specialist immunity-resisting pesticides with a system of training and rotational spraying, which assists health departments and fieldworkers across Africa in anticipating and disrupting growing immunity among mosquitoes.

Vector control attempts to combat illnesses such as malaria by targeting the carriers, or vectors, rather than the disease itself. Bayer is not involved in malaria treatment, but has been a frontrunner in malaria prevention through vector control for more than 50 years.

“Our product, Ficam, which does not belong to the standard antimosquito pesticide class of pyrethroids, has made a major breakthrough in breaking down the resistance,” says Riemann.

“By working with the authorities, NGOs and communities to rotate Ficam and standard pyrethroids village by village before mosquitoes display complete immunity to the standard approach, we have been able to break the cycle and ensure a significantly more effective approach to eradicating malaria in the worst-affected areas.”

Ficam is manufactured and packed at Bayer’s Nigel plant using locally produced and imported ingredients.

As part of its approach to vector control, Bayer trains healthworkers employed by governments, international organi- sations and NGOs, as well as volunteers, in the safe and effective use of its resistance-breaking antimosquito pesticides. Ficam is used in 20 countries in Africa and is the only chemical solution for mosquito immunity recommended by the World Health Organisation.

“To date, we have trained about 100 000 trainers across Africa in the safe and effective use of Ficam, our other antimosquito product, K-Othrine, and the mosaic system of rotating pesticides village by village and season for season,” says Jobic, adding that these trainers will, in turn, pass their knowledge and skills on to spray operators across the continent to further the cause of eradicating malaria.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


The content you are trying to access is only available to subscribers.

If you are already a subscriber, you can Login Here.

If you are not a subscriber, you can subscribe now, by selecting one of the below options.

For more information or assistance, please contact us at

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?