Wallpaper-like liner may reduce malaria cases

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a grant to Donald S. Shepard to develop a wallpaper-like liner that may help to reduce malaria cases in a cost-effective way.

Shepard, a professor at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy at the Heller School, will receive $500,000 over the next three years to pursue research on the subject in Tanzania and Kenya.

"The research builds on a study that was launched a few years ago by the Centers for Disease Control in collaboration with the Kenya Medical Research Institute to measure the effectiveness of the wallpaper-like liner technology," Shepard said. "The material releases insecticides over several years. It has been found to be quite efficacious, and the economics of it are where we come in."

Data from the study found that the wall liners treated with insecticide reduced infections of malaria by 38 percent. Shepard's team will calculate additional outcomes from the study to fully understand the benefits of the liner. Shepard estimates that the use of the technology may prevent up to 300,000 deaths a year.

According to the World Health Organization, malaria kills 800,000 people a year in Africa alone.

"Malaria is one of the biggest killers in the world," Shepard said. "We've known how to treat it, but it's only been in recent years that prevention strategies have been implemented in a larger scale. This is one more very important tool that can overcome some of the limitations in existing technology and make a very substantial contribution."