Mosquito-borne diseases cause millions of deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization, making the mosquito one of, if not the deadliest, animal in the world.
In the first half of 2018, the Department of Health reported 69,088 new dengue cases in the Philippines. In 2017, there were 131,827 cases.
Mosquitoes thrive in wet, tropical climates. With global warming and longer rainy seasons, they can cause a global health crisis.
A past bout with dengue convinced Derek Ramsay that campaigning for the control and eradication of mosquitoes would be a worthwhile cause.
“I don’t want anyone else to experience it,” the actor said.
Dr. Francois Martin, a French entomologist and researcher who developed an antimosquito technology in the Philippines called Kyzox, reached out to Brazilian beauty queen Priscilla Meirelles about a possible endorsement partnership. Kyzox was preparing to export to Brazil, one of three top antimosquito markets in the world, alongside the Philippines and Indonesia.
Martin has been trying to promote widespread use of his organic and plant-derived mosquito killer here since 2015, offering it for free to several barangay. But his efforts have largely been for naught, Meirelles said.
Kyzox is an additive for everyday household items—laundry detergent, house paint, body lotion, soap, fabric softener and floor cleaner—that claims to kill mosquitoes on contact.
It’s now widely used in 58 countries.
The former Miss Earth broached the idea to her husband, actor John Estrada, who runs a talent and modeling management agency with Ramsay.
The trio decided it wasn’t only a good business to get into, it would also be a good advocacy. Like Martin, they wanted the poorest of the poor to have access to it. They wanted a long-term partnership with Kyzox, not just as endorsers but also as investors.
“After hearing of Dr. Martin’s efforts, about the difficulty of putting it out there for widespread use, we wondered why people are blocking this. We could give this to the poor, it would be such a gift,” said Ramsay, who’s no stranger to philanthropy. He has a privately run orphanage in Lanao del Norte and also holds medical missions thrice a year in Palawan where his family has a house.
“And John is the most paranoid parent in the world,” he added in jest.
Meirelles and Estrada’s daughter, Sammanta Anechka, 6, comes home from school always with mosquito bites all over, even as her mother applies antimosquito lotion on her and puts antimosquito patches on her things. The girl attends an international school in Taguig.
“That’s the thing with mosquitoes, they don’t choose their victims. It doesn’t matter if you live in Forbes,” Ramsay said.
Martin developed his groundbreaking concoction in the Philippines using extracts of plants, including two species of lagundi (Vitex negundo and Vitex trifolia), known for their insecticidal properties. (He partnered with a subsidiary of Pascual Laboratories to produce the additive in large volumes in a plant in Nueva Ecija.)
Kyzox, according to its website, is all organic and safe for humans and pets, including newborns and pregnant women. While it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, its applications here haven’t been marketed yet.
Martin had approached several barangay to test the efficacy and safety of Kyzox by offering to paint schools and other public spaces with MoskiWalls, a paint with Kyzox, for free, but he was repeatedly shunned, Meirelles said.
“The minute he starts talking about fogging,” the widely used antimosquito control, “the talks shut down,” Ramsay said. “Why don’t they even want to try, libre na nga? In my own village, I asked if they could skip my house with the fogging, but they said no, since it’s the rule.”
Martin’s goal is for Kyzox to replace fogging, which kills only adult mosquitoes and not their larva.
Fogging also kills the mosquito’s natural predators —which is problematic since mosquitoes reproduce multiple times faster than their predators.
Kyzox—which also kills cockroaches, flies, bed bugs, ants and spiders—is likewise meant to replace mosquito coils and other chemical sprays and insecticides for the home.
“Whenever they fog our condo, we leave for three to four days, because it’s poison,” Meirelles said. “I haven’t had an asthma attack in years, but one time I went back home very quickly (after fogging) just to get my laptop. I had the worse asthma attack and I even lost my voice… I don’t want my child around any of that!”
In January 2019, Kyzox will introduce here for the first time the house paint and a clip-on for electric fans and air-con vents that disperses Kyzox. The refillable clip-on will cost P149.90 (including one refill; refill costs P30), priced low to reach a wider market. The paint will retail for about P450/gallon.
(Because Kyzox in its varied levels of formulation is an additive, it can be purchased on its own, to be mixed with one’s own paint or laundry detergent.)
The Kyzox paint is claimed to have mosquito repellency of 87-95 percent on the first year of application, and decreases by 15-20 percent/year. The clip-on lasts for up to 30 days (with
daily eight-hour use) and protects from mosquitoes within an 8-meter radius.
When Meirelles’ helper’s child had dengue, the hospital bill totaled P13,000, an exorbitant amount for the poor mother.
“Imagine that,” Meirelles said, “compared to P30 (for the clip-on refill) a month!”
Since most Filipinos don’t have health insurance, “they’ll sell the last thing they have just to pay for their hospital bills.” Some even resort to crime, Ramsay added.
Picture this, Meirelles said, if you paint your house with Kyzox, your entire surrounding is “one giant antimosquito patch that protects you for five years.”
“I lived in the middle of the Amazon, where there’s all kinds of mosquito-borne diseases. Everyone in my family has had dengue except me,” she said.
“Then Dr. Martin said a lot people do not even know they’ve had dengue, perhaps because they didn’t exhibit the symptoms [since they had a strong immune system]. But if you get it the second time, it’s worse. The third time could be fatal.”
Ramsay plans to paint the walls of his orphanage in Mindanao with Kyzox. He has also had his Palawan home painted with a clear coat of it. His staff adds Kyzox to their floor cleaning solutions.
“We could sell it to property developers and manufacturers [of detergents, lotions and house paints], but we want to do it for the masa first and sell it to the hardware stores in the barangay,” Estrada said.
“We don’t want to just rely on government,” Ramsay said. “And you don’t really need to be in government to help.”