Instead of mosquitoes killing us, we’re killing them

Bart Knols

Under the mango tree

The eave tube is a simple plastic pipe with a remarkable mosquito-killing gauze fitted into the walls beneath the roofs of African houses. It’s one of several life-saving innovations to be born underneath the mango tree, thanks to Dr Bart Knols and a team of more than 40 researchers from five countries, that he orchestrates.

Bart Knols

As a renowned authority in malaria, Bart got tired of writing research papers about mosquitoes without putting that knowledge into practice…so he decided to set up a company that does just that. Not an easy decision when a glittering and comfortable career in academia beckons and you have a family and mortgage to consider…

Having raised all-important funding from the EU, Bart’s team decided to develop simple and affordable new tools to combat mosquitoes. So to help brainstorm ideas for killing malaria, he and a team of scientists flew out to Tanzania, where the disease is rife.

Rather than a team full of entomologists like himself, the gathering in Tanzania brought together experts from various unrelated fields, with different ideas and backgrounds. And together, they did their thinking and talking…underneath a mango tree: Very fruitful it proved too.

The result was the simple eave tube. Today, more than 1,500 homes in Tanzania have been fitted with eave tubes, protecting some 7,000 people. Bart’s dream is to tackle a further 1.2 million homes around Lake Victoria where malaria infects every third child. Tubes are reducing the number of malaria mosquitoes indoors by 85-90%. “For the first time in a very long time people tell us they are sleeping more peacefully at night,” says Bart.

And since dedicating his life to the massacre of malaria, so is he.

Today's Pioneers