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Vestergaard is a company headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland that manufactures public health tools for people in developing countries. Originally founded in 1957 as a uniform maker, the company evolved into a social enterprise making products for humanitarian aid in the 1990s. It is now best known for inventing the LifeStraw water filter and the PermaNet mosquito net.
The company has several "disease control textiles" products designed as health interventions for developing countries, including the LifeStraw water filtration device to prevent waterborne disease, and the PermaNet, a mosquito net impregnated with the long-lasting insecticide deltamethrin to prevent malaria. The company also produces ZeroFly, which is an advanced reduced residue defence against insect pests for livestock and crop protection prior, during and post-harvest.
Vestergaard is the largest producer of insecticide-treated bed nets and has distributed over half a billion nets worldwide. The PermaNet bed net employs a superior technology which enables the slow release of the insecticide deltamethrin. PermaNet lasts for a minimum of three years and requires no re-treatment or dipping. It's recommended by the World Health Organization and meets the highest international standards for efficacy. Products in the line include PermaNet 2.0 long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net and PermaNet 3.0. This is the first combination bed net designed for areas where vectors have become resistant to insecticides approved for use in bed nets available today.
The filters provide access to safe drinking water by removing disease-causing pathogens that cause waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea in the developing world. LifeStraw technologies have been distributed to more than 64 countries. The filters are designed to be easy to use and require no electricity or batteries. The personal version is designed for hikers, campers or people displaced by natural disasters. LifeStraw Guinea Worm has been instrumental in the near eradication of Guinea worm disease. LifeStraw Family, used in homes, provides an average family of five with safe water for at least three years. LifeStraw Community, for schools, health facilities, workplaces and community settings, delivers 70,000 to 100,000 liters of safe drinking water over its lifetime, and LIfeStraw Go is a reusable water bottle that incorporates the LifeStraw personal filter.
ZeroFly products are designed to help maximize food yield. ZeroFly Livestock is an advanced insecticide-incorporated screen that helps keep livestock healthy and productive by reducing the impact of nuisance and biting flies, such as often deadly tsetse flies. It provides consistent, sustained long-lasting control by continuously refreshing insecticide at the surface of the yarns and is easy to install and maintain. ZeroFly Storage Bags are insecticide-incorporated storage bags that prevent damaging pest infestations. The bags provide consistent, sustained, long-lasting control by continuously refreshing insecticide at the surface of the yarns.
Vestergaard also initiates programs to enhance delivery of its products. The company bundles LifeStraw and PermaNet together into a CarePack of preventive health tools to encourage people to get tested for HIV. LifeStraw has also been distributed as part of the LifeStraw Carbon for Water program, where nearly 900,000 water purifiers were distributed in Kenya through funding provided by carbon offsets.
Vestergaard was founded in 1957 by Kaj Vestergaard Frandsen, a former farmer and the grandfather of the current CEO, Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen. Kaj founded the company with a friend before going it alone. The company made linings for jackets and uniforms. Kaj's son Torben took over in 1970.
In 1990, Torben bought up 1 million yards of Swedish army surplus fabric used for uniforms, and turned it into blankets for aid organizations. That was the beginning of a change in focus of the company that continued after Mikkel was persuaded to join the company by his father in 1993. Mikkel had worked in Lagos from the age of 19 running a truck company, which "ignited his passion for Africa." He left Nigeria following a military coup, and returned to Denmark to work with his father. In 1997 Torben and Mikkel agreed to split the company into separate female uniform and humanitarian textiles businesses, and then Mikkel bought out his father and stopped producing uniforms. In 1996, the company began supplying Guinea worm filters to The Carter Center. PermaNet bed nets were launched in 1999, LifeStraw was introduced in 2005 and ZeroFly entered the market in 2012. In 2010, the company was around 100 times the size of when Mikkel joined it. Vestergaard has been a member of the UN Global Compact since 2008 and initiated, then participated in the Bed Net Industry Dialogue hosted by the Global Business Coalition in 2009.
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