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Financial Times Examines Cuban Company Selling Larvicides For Malaria Control In Africa

Though “[m]ost international support credited with the recent decline in malaria in Africa has been channeled to providing bednets, diagnostics and drugs, a Cuban company called Labiofam is marketing bacterial larvicides in Africa to help fight the disease,” the Financial Times reports. According to the newspaper, “health specialists have voiced concerns about the cost and effectiveness of the technology the Cubans are selling,” and the WHO “is finalizing guidance that concludes larvicides have only a ‘specific and limited’ role to play, where there are sites for mosquito larvae that are ‘few, fixed and findable’ — something that is rarely the case in Africa.”

Labiofam has larviciding programs currently operating in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, and is in talks with the governments of several other nations, the Financial Times notes, adding, “To the frustration of local African malaria specialists, the Cubans have frequently bypassed the technical experts and their demands for detailed data proving the impact of larvicides.” Speaking with the Financial Times, one African official who declined to be named said, “They go straight to the heads of state, playing the diplomatic connection,” the newspaper writes. Hafez Adam Taher, a representative of Labiofam in Ghana, “sa[id] Labiofam has stepped up efforts in recent months to work with other experts dealing with malaria,” according to the newspaper, which adds, “At a time of growing pressure on donors, suspicion remains” (Jack, 4/29).