Japanese Company working in Africa ③: Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.
Long-lasting insecticide net “Olyset® Net”
Sumitomo Chemical is a general chemical manufacturer with businesses in the following five sectors: basic chemicals, petrochemicals and plastics, IT-related chemicals, health and crop sciences, and pharmaceuticals. Since its establishment in 1913, Sumitomo Chemical has been committed to an ideal that is not confined to the pursuit of profits for the company, but rather, to the provision of products and technologies to society in support of individual lives and industries, based on its philosophy of contributing to society through its business activities.
Sumitomo Chemical developed Olyset® Net with the aim of realizing a safe and secure living environment by protecting people from the mosquitoes that carry malaria, which is one of the top three infectious diseases in the world.
The “controlled release” technology, which was originally used on insect-repelling screen doors in factories, has been applied to this product. Even if the surface insecticide comes off over time or through washing, the insecticide that is contained within the plastic is released slowly, enabling an insect-repelling effect lasting more than five years. In 2001, Olyset® Net was accorded official recognition by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the first long-lasting insecticide net in the world. To make the product easier to use in the hot climate of Africa, particular effort has also been put into the design of the net to improve breathability.
Sumitomo Chemical has provided the production technology to Tanzania’s A to Z Textile Mills Ltd. at no charge, and production commenced in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2003. Sumitomo Chemical also set up a joint venture company with A to Z Textile Mills, thereby bringing about significant growth in production volume. While production capacity had been 400,000 nets per year at the start of the project, it has now increased to approximately 30 million nets. This has in turn created employment for an estimated 7,000 people at the highest point.
Fall in malaria infection rate, creation of employment
Progress has also been made in expanding the Olyset® Net product series, and Olyset® Classic for general consumers was launched for sale in Kenya, in 2011. The products are distributed mainly through the sales networks of local agents, and sold at places that are familiar to the local community, such as supermarkets. The company has also developed Olyset® Plus for use against mosquitoes that are resistant to pyrethroid-based drugs. In 2012, this product was accredited by WHO as a long-lasting insecticide net. The company is currently developing Olyset® Duo as a next-generation tool to combat insecticide resistance.
Malaria eradication is a global issue that has been listed as one of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, and the expansion of the Olyset® Series is anticipated to further contribute toward the realization of this goal.
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