Africa’s health sector is facing serious challenges in meeting the needs of a fast-growing population, collapsing and diminishing health infrastructure. This has informed the intensified campaigns by public and private sector to promote preventive health practices.
Campaigns to control contaminable diseases in institutions such as hospitals, schools, restaurants and factories has triggered research into viable paint solutions to enhance high health standards alongside maintaining the aesthetic value of the painted surfaces.
Paint makers in the region have responded to calls by governments in Africa for cheaper paint solutions that could help prevent disease outbreaks as the continent grapples with a population explosion that had hit a billion people by 2010.
The surge in population has in turn created huge demand for more hospitals, schools, factories and eating places, which are known to be vulnerable to bacterial growth and breeding grounds for vectors such as mosquitoes. The expansion of these institutions and infrastructure has not only created demand for paint for aesthetic purposes but also paint that can keep the surfaces clean and eliminate disease causing environment.
The UN World Population Prospects said Africa’s population will increase to 1.4 billion in 2025 and 1.9 billion by 2050.
Paint makers such as Basco Paints, Crown Paints, Dulux South Africa and Kansani Plascon have introduced anti-bacterial and mosquito repellent paints in the market as a response to the spread of microorganisms, communicable diseases and deadly fevers.
For example Basco Paints, one of the leading paint makers in Eastern Africa, broke ground for players in the market when it launched the first anti-bacterial paint in this part of Africa over six months ago.
The Duracoat Anti-Bacterial Paint, which Basco Paints said is “innovative and one of its kind” ensures sustainable protection against bacteria and mould and also minimises the spread of disease and infection from antiobiotic resistant superbugs such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), Salmonella, E. COLI.
“It reduces the risk of infections for the lifetime of the paint,” said Kamlesh Shah, the company’s managing director.
“This product is long overdue and will help enhance the well being of people in many industries and environments that are prone to infections.”
The introduction of Duracoat Anti-Bacterial Paint came barely months after the company pioneered the making of paint with lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Duracoat Eco-friendly paint. This is despite lack of legal framework on the VOCs in the region.
“Global efforts are now concentrated towards reduction of emission of harmful gases to the atmosphere and we are happy to do our part in contributing to the green economy,” said Shah previously during the launch of the eco-friendly paints in the market.
However, it is the introduction of the anti-bacterial paint solution that has glued the link between better healthcare and the paints industry.
The Duracoat Anti-Bacterial Paint, an emulsion paint, Shah said, is long overdue “and will help enhance the well-being of people in many industries and environments that are prone to infections.”
“The paint is available in three variants of silk, matt and satin and over 7,000 shades to meet the needs of any user,” added Shah.
The anti-bacterial paint, which dries within half an hour and can be recoated within three hours, is best suited for damp and humid surfaces such as bathrooms, toilets and kitchens “to stop the buildup of bacteria and mould which pose a variety of health risks.”
Basco Paints also makes and distributes other paint solutions in Eastern and Central Africa such as Duracoat Royale, Duracoat, Basco Paints, Ennis Prismo Thermoplastic Road Marking Paints (UK), Pat’s Décor Special Finishes (France), San Deco Special Finishes (Turkey), Real Roc Finishes (Turkey) and Auto Guard Range for vehicles.
Another paint market leader Crown Paints Kenya, has also unveiled a new anti-bacterial paint, increasing the variety of such paint solutions for healthcare enthusiasts to choose from.
The product, known as Medicryl Silk Emulsion, targets institutions where high level hygienic conditions are paramount in safeguarding people’s health.
Rakesh Rao, the CEO of the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed Crown Paints Kenya, is proud that his company has got a footing in the health sector with the introduction of Medicryl.
“Medicryl will enhance the environment in which we care for patients in Kenya and help reduce hospital-related infections,” said Rao.
A study funded by Wellcome Trust and published in “Lancet” two years ago said one in every 20 patients dies from hospital-acquired infections in Africa.
Unlike in developed countries where promotion of cleanliness among hospital staff and visitors is a priority, the situation in African hospitals is different because the institutions face serious difficulties such as overcrowding, frequent shortages of basic supplies such as running water and clean linen.
“The conditions in African hospitals are often poor, and it is very likely that these environments lead to considerable amounts of sickness among patients who are already debilitated by their primary illness,” said the study.
The World Health Organization said hospital-acquired infections affects from five percent to 15 percent of hospitalized patients in regular wards and as many as 50 percent or more of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) in developing countries.
The Kenya Medical Association (KMA), a voluntary membership organization open to all medical and dental practitioners registered in Kenya, has lauded the unveiling of the anti-bacterial paints saying it will greatly contribute to reduction of hospital infections to patients and medical personnel.
“We commend Crown Paints for introducing this innovative product in the market. It will help address the challenge posed by hospital-related infections to both patients and hospital staff,” said Elly Opot, the chairman of KMA during the launch of Medicryl in March.
Medicryl was Crown Paints’ second product to be launched in succession in a period of two year after the earlier unveiling of Teflon Surface Protector paint in the market, which the company said “ensures walls and other surfaces are easy to clean and resistant to stains.”
Rao also said Crown Paints, which also operates Regal Paints in neighboring Uganda, has shifted focus to paint solutions that enhanced the living environment.
“We are committed to providing coating solutions that not only have decorative appeal but also improve the living environment. Medicryl will enhance the environment in which we care for patients and help reduce hospital-related infections,” said Rao.
Similar innovative paint solutions have been unveiled in South Africa as paint manufacturers focus on the huge health sector in Africa’s largest economy.
Dulux South Africa, a subsidiary of UK-based Dulux Trade, has recently launched Sterishield, a water-based paint that prevents the flourishing of bacteria on painted surfaces.
“We see this as a major breakthrough in anti-bacterial paint coatings that will promote a much more hygienic environment in many buildings throughout South Africa,” said Mayan Desai, Dulux South Africa’s trade marketing manager in March.
Dulux said the Sterishield Diamond Matt is ideal for hospitals, health clinics, care homes and kitchens. The company says this anti-bacterial paint has “an active silver-based bactericide” which when combined with its “durable and washable nature of the paint film” makes it an effective solution in eradicating bacteria.
The growing interest in health in South Africa has attracted more paint makers now keen on growing their market share in the larger Southern Africa region. Kansai Plascon, formerly Plascon South Africa, was in the market earlier with its Professional Hygiene paint.
Plascon said the paint, launched last year and which has become popular with consumers especially those running restaurants, “creates cleaner and more hygienic interiors, which alleviate the risks of cross-contamination, illness and infection in public buildings.”
According to Plascon, the paint is formulated using its own biodefence silver technology enhancing its capacity to “protect against harmful bacteria such as E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus and does not wash or wear off during the lifetime of the paint.”
“The paint has been tested against the stringent Japanese Industrial Standard Test for Anti-Microbial Activity and Efficacy, which measures the ability of antimicrobial surfaces to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Plascon Professional Hygiene eliminated up to 99.9 per cent of E.coli during the test,” the company said in one its product briefs. “It can reduce the E.coli count to less than one percent after six hours outstripping conventional paints which can take more than 24 hours to achieve the same result. It has also proven to be effective in lessening the bacterial load on surfaces between washing, to ensure that surfaces stay cleaner and healthier for longer.”
Previously business-to-business marketing manager James Mcleary had said the company is “able to offer customers a healthier paint solution which will help to protect them and others from bacteria.”
Over six months ago Kansai Plascon pioneered a paint solution that could help reduce Africa’s biggest fever causing parasite aedes aegypti.
The company unveiled its Mosquito Repellent Paint which keeps away malaria-causing mosquitoes from surfaces such as walls and ceilings that have been painted with the coating solution.
The Mosquito Repellent Paint, which Kansai Plascon said repels mosquitoes for up to three years “can also be used as a finishing coat on appropriately primed and undercoated wood and metal. South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS) testing found that surfaces treated with Mosquito Repellent Paint recorded 99 percent less landing when using Aedes aegypti mosquito.”
Center for Disease Constrol (CDC) decribes the Aedes aegypti as “a small, dark mosquito with white lyre shaped markings and banded legs” mostly in tropical and subtropical areas and considered “to be primary vector of viral diseases such as the dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.”
The repellent paint according to Kansai Plascon is “suitable for application to suitably prepared plaster, concrete, porous brickwork and various types of building board.
For paint manufacturers in Africa, the health sector promises to remain one of the largest markets because of the increasing demand for preventive solutions as opposed to curative solutions, which are considered more expensive.