Cameroonian invents atypical larvicide to battle malaria

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DOUALA, Cameroon

Agnes Antoinette Ntoumba is a researcher from Cameroon who bears the high levels of malaria. She is also an inventor of an atypical larvicide developed from plants to fight the deadly disease on the continent.

“In Africa we have the advantage of a diverse and varied flora. Not all plants respond to this process, but the majority do. The ones we use are in our daily environment,” she said.

Surrounding plants and leaves of trees, which she keeps secret, are the ingredients from which she makes her mosquito larvae killer. The special thing about this project, however, is the nanotechnology.

This is “an advantage” as nanoparticles are currently used in all areas of science but have not always been associated with plants, the Cameroonian researcher told the Anadolu agency, trusting the features of her solution.

This larvicide is used differently than insecticides, which the researcher believes are infectious and harmful to the environment and human health. It’s supposed to destroy the larvae of mosquitoes that cause malaria.

As a PhD student in natural sciences, Ntoumba began researching this solution by working on the subject of nanoparticles under the guidance of her university directors. She believes the results of her work are still “imaginative”. She received them by working in her neighborhood, collecting and sorting larvae with the help of her relatives.

“The effectiveness of this solution was proven after several tests. I had an entire apartment in my house for this work. Our product quickly killed the larvae we used. I also continued my experiments in my university laboratory. The results were always conclusive.” she reported.

She was recently accepted by UNESCO and the L’Oreal Foundation among the 20 young women scientists in Africa. She had applied for this award, and the careful work of the experts who award it proves the effectiveness of this larvicide, according to her.

Expansion strategy

It is intended for everyone and will be available at very low prices. Ntoumba wants all households to be able to receive it.

“If every home uses it, it will be widespread among the people and everyone will benefit from it. We can really talk about reducing malaria because it eliminates the number of vectors,” she said.

The researcher uses nature to create her product and believes that since she does not pay for the raw material, i.e. the plants, she should provide services at affordable prices.

Ntoumba regrets the fact that people are using malaria to make money by making harmful products, while many people mourn the deaths from malaria.

“People are dying from this disease. So we have to find solutions. It’s a necessary fight,” she said.

However, for large-scale production it has to mobilize resources that are not yet available. So far she has used her own resources, those of the university laboratory and the support of her relatives. The UNESCO Prize also accompanies her until the end of her work and she hopes to receive the support of other partners.

In the long term, her project also aims to combat global warming by planting multiple trees. It will also create jobs by hiring farmers, salespeople and more staff for the production and distribution chain.

The young Cameroonian is also planning to further develop her solution so that it can be used in mosquito nets to ward off mosquitoes. She does not intend to stop and will “continue to find solutions to other insects without harming human health,” said Ntoumba.

Ntoumba had never hoped for international recognition and confessed that her dream and motivation was always to come out of her laboratory with a life-saving solution.

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