In this interview, get acquainted with Rune Bosselmann, Director of TANA Netting. Discover more about his journey so far at the helm of the company, his proudest achievements, future challenges and opportunities, and his vision of how TANA Netting can remain at the forefront of the battle against malaria.
When did you join NRS International?
I joined in 2013. Prior to that I was heavily involved in public health innovation, and was responsible for co-founding a number of technical start-ups, which continue to develop medical and dental equipment and services to this day. I am currently the Director of TANA Netting, the manufacturer and supplier of DawaPlus® 2.0 long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) for the humanitarian and public health sectors.
How has the company changed?
Well, how much time have you got? Let’s just say that we literally started from nothing. From those early days we have since built up our production operation to one that now employs three thousand staff and manufactures 60 million nets per year. These incredible achievements are directly attributable to the colleagues I am honoured to work alongside at our manufacturing company in Lahore – H. Sheikh Noor-ud-Din & Sons (HSNDS).
Which achievements are you particularly proud of?
We have implemented a rigorous performance and quality management system and a second-to-none laboratory facility. These together ensure a high speed and continuous production at all times, and an unrivalled product quality. Outside our factory walls, we have built a robust supply chain that operates on an efficient just-in-time basis and brings more than 160 containers through our factory doors each month from all over the world. This transformation of TANA Netting, from once near-obscurity to market-leader, is undoubtedly the highlight of my career.
What does sustainability mean to you?
To me, the sustainability of our business is all about ensuring that our individual products, and product range, are fit-for-purpose. The fight against malaria is a very long-term one, and disease transmission scenarios are continually evolving. As such, we need to constantly monitor our products in terms of costing, features and design. We also pay close attention to the external environment, as anything from human movement and behavior, insecticide resistance and even mosquito behavior can have significant effects.
What are the main challenges to long-term product efficacy and how are you addressing them?
Insecticide resistance is one of the main concerns within the malaria community. It refers to changes in an insect that increase its ability to withstand or overcome the effects of an insecticide. There is still uncertainty with regards to its impact on the efficacy of long-lasting insecticidal nets. In 2016, the WHO Malaria Policy Advisory Committee reported that even in areas of high insecticide resistance there was little impact on disease burden. So, whilst marginal improvement of LLINs with new insecticides are appreciated, programmes and donors must be careful when advising the use of new and more expensive products. This is because the results of the new insecticides are unclear, but the impact on disease burden from less LLIN coverage is obvious to all. At TANA Netting, we continue to explore new types of LLINs with improved efficacy and with the ability to control even very pyrethroid resistant mosquitoes, but keep a keen eye on feasibility.
An even greater challenge to LLIN operational efficacy is user compliance. Actual usage rates remain stubbornly low in some areas and this compromises any population effect of campaigns. One area of persistent low usage rate is with forest dwelling populations in the Mekong region, which is not only a place of persistent disease rates but also an area where resistance to important anti-malaria drugs
is known to develop. TANA Netting has invested significantly in bringing improved vector control tools to these hard-to-reach populations in the form of our canopy hammock.
Going forward, what are your main priorities to maintain TANA Netting’s market leadership?
Continual improvement is at the heart of TANA Netting. Our production and laboratory processes at our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Lahore are now fully ISO-accredited, and we are currently rolling out lean production methods to realise further cost efficiencies and quality increases. This will ultimately benefit the reach of the global malaria programme. We are also implementing close monitoring of material consumption and social impact in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and UN Global Compact principles.
My team and I will continue to fulfill the DawaPlus legacy of improving the lives of people in malarious areas by providing cost-effective and high-quality preventative products.