13 November 2017
SINGAPORE, 13 November 2017 – Mosquitoes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of murderous animals. But the buzzing pests cause hundreds of millions of deaths and infections around the world each year. They’ve even been labelled the world’s deadliest animal by the World Health Organisation.
With last year’s Zika outbreaks and an increasing number of dengue cases, Singapore has been looking for new ways to reduce mosquito populations. These range from identifying areas most at risk using data and machine learning to releasing bacteria-carrying male mosquitoes that mate with females to produce eggs that do not hatch.
Now, in an effort to prevent illnesses and protect communities, Manulife Singapore has taken an unexpected new step in the fight against mosquitoes with the Life Saving Pots – the world’s first plant pots that double as mosquito repellents.
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant pools of water. In tropical countries like Singapore, these pools can often be found in overwatered plant pots.
To deny mosquitoes their favourite breeding ground, each Life Saving Pot is coated in a special paint that contains permethrin, a non-toxic insecticide that repels mosquitoes. The paint has been tested to repel up to 80% of mosquitoes, including Aedes mosquitoes, which carries dengue and Zika viruses.
The paint works by disrupting the nervous systems of mosquitoes, knocking them unconscious when they attempt to land on the plant pots. The Life Saving Pot effectively prevents mosquitoes from turning our homes into theirs too.
Kwek-Perroy Li Choo, Chief Customer Officer of Manulife Singapore says, “Given our climate and population density, Singapore is uniquely vulnerable to mosquito-borne diseases. We believe in encouraging our customers to actively take precautions with their health. We wanted to get to the root of the problem by preventing the mosquitoes from breeding in homes in the first place. The creation of these Life Saving Pots is a simple and elegant solution that helps Singaporeans to keep their homes safe.”
Manulife Singapore worked with TBWA/Group Singapore to create handcrafted plant pots in three different sizes with three unique designs. The creation melds art, age-old traditions and technology to combat a long-standing concern in Singapore.
The pots are first fired at The Dragon Kiln, one of the last surviving wood-fire brick kilns in Singapore. Unlike modern day gas and electric kilns, the ashes from the wood react to create unpredictable finishes that make each pot one-of-a-kind. Once the pots have cooled, they are layered with two coats of the mosquito-repelling paint.
Each Life Saving Pot is then brought to life by traditional ceramic artist, Shee Bee Heo, formally trained at Ming Village Ceramics. Over several months, she painstakingly painted the designs on each pot by hand. Her swift and elegant ink strokes come from over 30 years of experience and dedication to ceramics and traditional Chinese painting. At first glance, the pots appear to be intricately painted, traditional Chinese-style works of art. A very different story is revealed on closer inspection: the delicate flowers upon the long, fine branches depict fallen mosquitoes, with their upturned wings resembling petals.
Creating pots that save lives was just the first step. With the help of its employees and agents, Manulife Singapore will be distributing 80 Life Saving Pots to senior communities in Singapore’s Punggol neighbourhood on Sunday 19 November.
Ms Sun Xueling, Member of Parliament, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC will be present to help distribute the Life Saving Pots, and provide advice and precautions to the residents of the Punggol neighbourhood, who have been affected by dengue and Zika outbreaks in recent years.
Dengue poses the greatest risk to the elderly, who are more likely to have chronic medical conditions and a lowered immunity, making it harder to fight off the disease. Manulife Singapore believes it’s essential not only helping customers fight illnesses, but also preventing illnesses by educating people to lead a healthy life.
At the same time, Manulife Singapore will also be hosting a contest on its Facebook page to give away Life Saving Pots to the public.