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Students win $25K for developing anti-malaria soap

Billions of dollars have been spent battling malaria, a mosquito-borne disease which the World Health Organization estimates killed 660,000 people in 2010, most of them African children.

While malaria continues to be a plague for which there is no failsafe remedy, researchers have made inroads.

One recent cause for hope is an effort financed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others to genetically engineer mosquitoes and prevent the transmission of malaria.

Another is the fact that countries continue to invest in fighting the disease. In 2011, the amount spent on the disease rose to $1.8 billion, compared with $100 million in 2000, according to the WHO's 2012 annual report on malaria.

Now, add another reason for hope: a pair of African students have created a soap made from karate citronella and other herbs that repels malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Moctar Dembélé, from Burukina Faso, and Gérard Niyondiko, from Burundi, are students at the International Institute of water and environment in Burkina Faso and have won a $25,000 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) award prize for their creation, according to a report on Ventures Africa, a website that reports on small business and entrepreneurship in Africa.

Dembélé and Niyondiko are the first non American-born citizens to win the social venture competition, Ventures Africa reports.

Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at the Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead


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