In the last few years, as part of their long-term Dengue se paak Pakistan CSR campaign, Reckitt Benckiser (RB) Pakistan have launched various initiatives to reduce the incidence of dengue in Pakistan. The latest development, the installation of mosquito-killer billboards last month across Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, is according to Shahzeb Mahmood, CEO, RB Pakistan, “yet another testament of our pledge for a dengue-free Pakistan.”
A quick look at the statistics presents an alarming picture. In the last six years, Pakistan has witnessed more than 65,000 cases of dengue nationwide. Last year alone, 3,000 cases were reported in Punjab, while Sindh accounted for more than 2,000. With more than 195 reported cases this year in Karachi alone (source: Prevention and Control Programme for Dengue in Sindh), the threat is more real than ever.
The billboards have built-in exhaust fans, which ‘pull in’ any mosquitoes that come too near and trap them, where they eventually dehydrate and die.
While there has been an increase in the sales of mosquito repellent products and pesticides, (thanks to growing awareness about dengue), the problem of mosquito protection in open spaces continues to plague people – and the health authorities. With the weather forecast to stay hot and humid in the densely populated central and southern regions of Pakistan, the Aedes mosquito will have ideal breeding conditions.
This makes the development of the mosquito killing billboards even more relevant. According to Fahad Ashraf, Director Marketing, RB Pakistan, “the inspiration for the billboards came from a similar programme that was successfully executed in Brazil. In-house R&D teams at RB, along with our fabrication partners BMC, developed, assembled and installed these billboards locally.”
Tied in with Mortein, a leading brand in the domestic pest control category, the Mortein Mosquito Killer Billboards are an innovative way of dealing with mosquitoes in outdoor settings.
The boards have been programmed to mimic human biology in that they release carbon dioxide and create the smell of perspiration through lactic acid foams, just as the human body does, to attract mosquitoes. The boards have built-in exhaust fans, which ‘pull in’ any mosquitoes that come too near and trap them, where they eventually dehydrate and die.
An important consideration was the selection of locations at which the boards would have maximum impact. Ashraf explains that RB Pakistan, and specifically the Mortein team, had three priorities when deciding where the billboards should be installed.
“Public spaces that attract crowds and where there are piles of trash and/or uncovered puddles nearby, were the target areas, as these conditions make for perfect mosquito breeding grounds, and people are at the maximum risk of becoming infected.”
Although it is too early to determine the effectiveness of this pilot initiative, initial estimates by RB Pakistan project that the billboards have the capacity to kill several species of Aedes mosquitoes daily.
However, the scale of the CSR programme has been limited due to the financial and logistical challenges involved. Multiple billboards have been installed across the three metros this year and Ashraf confirms that “the programme outreach is limited compared to the actual need. However this is an important first step in reducing mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria, and moving a step closer towards our vision of a Dengue se paak Pakistan.”