Failure to secure an investor who meets the standards set by World Health Organisation (WHO) is holding back plans to construct a mosquito net plant in Rwanda.
The Government first mooted the idea of constructing a factory to manufacture treated mosquito nets, locally, in 2015 following widespread cases of malaria infections after it emerged that the country had spent a staggering Rwf9 billion on the purchase of 2.6 million substandard mosquito nets from a Danish firm, Netprotect.
The Minister for Health, Dr Diane Gashumba, told The New Times that last year, Government got a potential investor but the deal collapsed because they (the investor) could not meet the standards set by World Health Organisation (WHO).
"The first requirement is to get an investor who is already qualified by WHO such that their factory will immediately be approved by WHO. This is a critical requirement, which cannot get fulfilled by many investors," she said.
She added that when it is an investor who engages in such a business for the first time, they will have to look for the qualification, which is time consuming process.
She said that the budget for setting up the factory will depend on its size and expected production.
The Government envisages this project to be operated under a Public Private Partnership arrangement involving the Government, a private investor and a WHO-certified LLIN manufacturer, according to a statement calling for potential partners to express interest in establishment and operation of a "cut and sew" facility manufacturing Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) in Rwanda, issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
An LLIN is a factory-treated mosquito net made with netting material that has insecticide incorporated within or bound around the fibres. It repels, disables and/or kills malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
According to Dr Gashumba, "The rationale is that when you have such a factory, you do not face procurement delays, which can lead to a period when you do not have mosquito nets to give to your people because when you rely on external production there are such risks of delays".
Second, she said, the factory will ease quality control for the products.
Also, the production of mosquito nets within the country brings in foreign currency export.
Under its Malaria and Other parasitic Diseases Division-Rwanda Biomedical Centre, the Government promotes universal coverage of of treated mosquito nets, which is the WHO requirement of one bed net per 1.8 person.
To implement this programme over the five-year period, 2009 to 2013, Rwanda, with donor funding, imported $85.9 million worth of mosquito nets, representing an annual average import figure of $17.2 million.
The factory would thus reduce the country's import bill and boost its balance of trade. .
Rwanda's demand for treated bed nets is projected to rise from 7.4 million in the 2016/2017 fiscal year 7.9 million in 2019/2020, according to Rwanda Malaria Contingency Plan.
Malaria cases in Rwanda increased from 640, 000 in 2010 to 3.4 million in 2016, according to the 2017 World Malaria Report by WHO.
Globally, in 2016, some 91 countries reported 216 million cases of malaria, an increase of 5 million cases over the previous year.