Others say

OTHERS SAY: Malaria is back

Over the past two decades, the fight against malaria has been among the biggest success stories in global health. Yet that progress has recently stalled, and in some countries, new cases are surging again. At least part of the blame lies with flaws in the most widely used tools for fighting the mosquito-borne disease: bed nets.

More than 3 billion insecticide-coated bed nets have been distributed worldwide in the past 20 years. At $5 a net, they're responsible for 68 percent of the reduction in malaria cases since 2000, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. One study found that sleeping under bed nets increased babies' chances of survival in malaria-prone regions by 27 percent.

Those life-saving gains may now be at risk. As a Bloomberg News investigation reveals, the declining efficacy of bed nets has contributed to an alarming spike in malaria infections.

The reason? Vestergaard, the Swiss company that produces PermaNet 2.0, switched to a cheaper coating researchers say rendered the insecticide less potent. But it didn't inform the World Health Organization of the change until at least 2017.

Despite concerns raised by scientists and aid workers, the company still hasn't acknowledged the waning efficacy of the product, which remains prevalent in poor countries. (In a statement to Bloomberg News, Vestergaard said the changes made to its nets adhered to the WHO's efficacy standards.)

This cost-cutting may have helped manufacturers' profits, but at a grievous toll to hundreds of thousands of children worldwide.

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