Thursday, August 30, 2012

A problem of millions and a creative solution

María Inés Guaia, Argentina

 The problem: Chagas disease, the most important parasitic disease in Latin America, spread by the blood-sucking insect ‘vinchuca’ (Refer to her previous article on the same subject)

The solution: insecticide-laced wall paint.

Dr. Pilar Mateo, a Spanish chemist, invented and pattented a tecnique of microencapsulation based on a polymeric mould.  After reading about the issue of bugs infestating hospital walls, she came up with the idea of introducing biocides in polymeric microcapsules using paint as a casing. The insecticides are released from the paint slowly, remaining effective for two to four years.

In 1997, a Bolivian doctor came to her seeking for help. He told her about the Chagas disease situation in his homecountry. Dr. Mateo was touched, and traveled to Bolivia in 1998 to test her technology. She has been working in developing products for vector control of insect-borne diseases ever since.

She has not only made an impact on the Chagas endemic in Bolivia. Other international initiatives include projects thoughout Latin America (Mexico, Costa Rica, Brasil, Argentina, Cuba) and Africa (Ecuatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Benin) to combat malaria and dengue-spreading mosquitoes, the Tse-Tse fly and arachnid vectors, among other insects.

Her work includes scientific research as well as measures of social promotion and some political negotiation. Last November, the Bolivian president Evo Morales invited Mateo to his office, and expressed his support. She is determined to overcome the various obstacles, such as insect resistance, political resistance, lack of interest from biocides companies, regulations, etc. to paint the world with health.

For more information about INESFLY and related projects visit

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