A firm that supplied millions of bad mosquito nets to Nigeria and many other developing countries has been blacklisted by Global Fund.
In its latest report, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Global Fund said TANA Netting FZ-LLC (TANA), between 2017 and 2018, supplied Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) that had reduced life spans and were outside of the required product specification due to being underdosed with insecticide.
Global Fund is a funding mechanism that pools the world’s largest financial donations for the prevention, treatment and care of AIDS, Tuberculosis, and malaria.
In the report, TANA was indicted for also using an invalidated chemical formula to produce the mosquito bed nets.
TANA did not adhere to approved manufacturing requirements and failed to control product quality of over 52 million Dawa Plus 2.0 LLINs costing $106 million, in violation of the Supplier Framework Agreement, the report stated.
According to the report, after an investigation into TANA Netting’s procurement of “Sub-standard Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets”, the Global Fund suspended all existing orders with the firm and moved planned orders to other contracted suppliers.
TANA Netting was founded in 1985 as SiamDutch Mosquito Netting by Nicolaas Pierson and has its head office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The company has yet to respond to a mail sent to its official email address seeking clarification over the indictment by the Global Funds.
Fighting malaria with mosquito nets
For years, the global health community has invested in solutions to prevent and treat malaria. This has yielded innovations such as the Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets that have become powerful tools deployed in the fight against malaria.
More than 500 million nets have been delivered to sub-Saharan Africa in the past decade and as nets have been more widely used, incidences of malaria have fallen. Between 2000 and 2012, global malaria mortality dropped by 42 per cent and a conservative estimate is that mosquito nets have helped to save at least 3 million children’s lives.
Malaria cases decreased by about nine million in 87 malaria-endemic countries within the last 20 years, the 2020 Malaria Report of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated.
While this is a remarkable progress, a new challenge of mosquitoes becoming resistant to the insecticides used in making the bed nets has emerged and this is partly because manufacturers such as TANA are reducing the quality of chemicals used in making them, according to the Global Fund’s report.
The OIG report
From 2001 through 2016, the largest contributor to the Global Fund was the United States, followed by France, UK, Germany, and Japan.
According to the organisation, in 2018, it helped finance the distribution of 131 million insecticide-treated nets to combat malaria.
The latest OIG report builds on previous ones trying to make sense of why steady investment is not translating to equivalent and much-expected results.
The OIG, which safeguards the Global Fund’s assets, investments, reputation and sustainability through its audits, investigations and advisory work, published its latest report in February.
According to the report, the OIG received information that between January 2017 and April 2018, TANA manufactured LLINs using unapproved manufacturing methods to bind insecticides to the net, and that there had been a deliberate attempt to falsify manufacturing data to cover up the non-conformity.
The nets suffered from considerable loss of insecticide after washing, resulting in unpredictable performance during their lifespan, it stated.
In violation of OIG’s access rights, TANA failed to provide OIG with manufacturing data and records. This impeded OIG’s ability to identify evidence of data falsification and fraud at the factory level, it noted.
“Following this investigation, the Global Fund Secretariat and its Recoveries Committee will take account of nets manufactured from January 2017 to January 2019 to seek a recoverable amount and/or contractual remedies”, the report said.
From 2009 onwards, TANA supplied over 121 million LLINs under Global Fund grants, at a cost of US$261 million.
In February 2013, TANA commissioned H. Sheikh Noor-ud-Din & Sons Pvt. Ltd (HSNDS), a manufacturer, to produce Dawa Plus 2.0 bed nets. Both TANA and HSNDS are part of NRS International, a family-owned holding company.
By 2017, HSNDS was producing up to 300,000 nets a day. Between January 2017 and April 2018, the Global Fund purchased 52 million of the Dawa Plus 2.0 LLINs from TANA for $106 million, the OIG report stated.
In November 2018, TANA reported that HSNDS, its subsidiary, used an unapproved chemical formula to manufacture the LLINs. As a result, TANA could not guarantee the quality of approximately 60 million LLINs delivered to its clients during this time (2017 and 2018).
After receiving TANA’s report, the OIG subsequently opened an investigation and found that HSNDS manufacturing records had been falsified to cover up the non-conformity.
Quality control testing performed on the TANA nets did not follow WHO quality requirements.
“The Global Fund decided to retain the nets that had already been distributed, to ensure populations were protected, and organized quality control testing to determine the actual level of the nets’ non-conformity with requirements,” it said.
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