An important portion of the developing world still falls victim to infectious diseases such as malaria, caused by different species of the Plasmodium protozoan and transmitted by mosquitoes of the Anopheles genus. According to available statistics, more than 200 million persons contract malaria every year, which exacts a significant death toll among children less than 5 years old and pregnant women at a time and age where the existing scientific and economic resources should have turned malaria into a distant memory.
Tanzania is located in the East African coast, in a zone that, due to the conjunction of climatological and socio-economic factors, is characterized by a high incidence of malaria. These reasons prompted the Tanzania-Cuba Intergovernmental Committee to implement, based on the Cuban experience and disposition, a joint program for the prevention of malaria, consisting of two projects.
The first project is the construction and commissioning of a plant for the production of the Bactivec® and Griselesf® bio-larvicides (aqueous suspensions of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis SH-14 and Bacillus sphaericus 2362 variant), highly effective against mosquito larvae of the genera Aedes (the Griselesf® does not work on the Aedes aegypti species), Culex, Psorophora, Anopheles, Mansonia and Simulidae which, according to the specific case, transmit diseases such as malaria, filariasis, encephalitis, dengue and onchocerciasis.
The second project, also in collaboration with Cuba, consists in the application of these products on surface waters hosting larval breeding sites of the mosquito. This project is currently underway in Tanzania’s biggest city, staffed by Tanzanian personnel trained and assessed by Cuban specialists. Future plans contemplate extending the project to other areas of the country and even other countries of the region as soon as the productive capacity of the new bio-larvicide plant becomes available. The plant, in addition, will guarantee the sustainability of the project.
The implementation of the first project started with the signing, on April 2010, of a Turnkey agreement between the National Development Corporation of Tanzania and LABIOFAM S.A. Commercializing Enterprise for the LABIOFAM Entrepreneurial Group. The agreement embodies the will of both parties to construct the industrial facility stipulated in the program, and specifies that the Tanzanian party will cover all expenses; the Cuban party, funded by Tanzania, will be in charge of conceptual engineering, the preparation of construction projects, the construction itself, plant start-up and technical assistance during its operation.
The plant, to be constructed in the industrial area of the Kibaha region 35 kilometers away from Dar es-Salaam, is based on conceptual engineering by the LABIOFAM group drawing from, among others aspects, its experience in Cuba, China and Argentina, together with the expertise of EPROYIV, a Cuban project contractor. It will be equipped with high-technology equipment obtained from reputed suppliers in countries like Canada, Brazil, Italy, Venezuela and South Korea. Construction and assembly of the plant, contracted to Tanzanian parties, are estimated to take 19 months from the signing date of a number of bilateral agreements.
At this moment, a team of 14 engineers and specialists organized into an Integrated Project Management Unit are working together with the Tanzanian clients and consultants from both countries, with the assistance of the Engineering Department and the LABIOFAM S.A. Commercializing Enterprise. The construction process is slated to start by June 2011, once the necessary preparatory documentation becomes available and all preliminary tasks have been fulfilled. This preparatory stage has been fruitful, however, as it has made it possible to acquire significant experience and important knowledge on the implementation of such projects in this and other African countries.
In addition to direct benefits, represented by the control of malarial vectors in Tanzania and, potentially, other countries of the East African community of nations, the versatility of the plant equipment will allow, with only minor technological adjustments, the implementation of other important productions destined for human health and agriculture.
The project will provide employment for approximately 130 Tanzanian professionals, technicians and workers, who will receive the necessary training to master the operation and functioning of the equipment and systems of the plant. Their training is scheduled so as to allow full operation of the plant by the second half of 2012.
Furthermore, the project also demonstrates the efficacy of collaborative projects between developing nations to tackle serious health problems which, by purely technological criteria, would already be eradicated; given that the principles for their control have been known in the international scientific community for more than 100 years now and the necessary technology has been readily available in several countries for some time.
May this program ease the pain of those helplessly witnessing the death of their loved ones in countries and regions around the world.
Thirty-five km away from Dar es-Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, a biolarvicide-production plant is being built to guarantee the sustainability of the vector control
project in the region.
Group of Cuban and Tanzanian specialists and engineers working on the project of the biolarvicide-production plant.