5 November 2018

Uganda: Joan Nalubega (21) Makes Mosquito-Repellent Soap to Combat Malaria

Having frequently suffered from malaria as a child, Joan Nalubega, a social entrepreneur and the co-founder of Uganics, was inspired to create a venture that would tackle the disease that accounts for 20% of Uganda's hospital deaths.

More than two thirds of malaria deaths, which is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes, occurs in children under the age of five. According to the World Health Organisation, nearly half the world's population is at risk of malaria. In Uganda it is at the top of the list of fatal infectious diseases.

After attending social enterprise training and drawing on her own experience, Joan Nalubega co-founded the Uganics product range.

"As a child I used to face malaria a lot, so I grew up with a determination to come up with an intervention to prevent malaria," she told Al Jazeera in an interview.

Uganics aims to combat malaria by producing anti-malaria products, particularly a long-lasting mosquito-repellent soap for children and families. The mosquito-repellent soap lasts up to six hours after use and can be used for clothes and linen, as well as personal hygiene for the same repelling effect.

Aside from the repellant component the soap has mainly organic essential oils, including olive oil, coconut oil, lavender and citronella, among other natural elements.

Nalubega has created a two-tier pricing system for tourists and locals. She said in the interview that she found most repellant products were created for and marketed to for tourists at a high cost. She therefore adapted a system of selling her products to tourists at a premium and using a portion of the revenue to discount the product to underprivileged and vulnerable Ugandans.

According to a statement by the Anzisha prize, in which Nalubega was a second runner-up in 2018, Uganics has in its existence carried out four malaria information campaigns and distributed 1 000 free anti-repellent soaps to 120 families in the rural districts of Uganda. Nalubega received US$12 500, with which she intends to conduct a certification study for the products and to prepare Uganics for export to neighbouring countries so as to widen her impact.

As Nalubega explained to Al Jazeera, her hope is to help reduce malaria deaths in Uganda by 20% in the next five years and maybe one day witness a malaria-free Uganda.

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