Pilar Mateo Herrero

Ashoka Fellow
Valencia, Spain
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Pilar Mateo Herrero was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Pilar is dramatically improving life conditions and life expectancy rates and restoring hope in severely disenfranchised communities in developing countries. She is shifting the response mechanisms for the most destructive diseases spread by insects. Instead of narrowly focusing her efforts on costly reactions to these deadly diseases (i.e. expensive medicines, vaccines, or fumigation), Pilar has an inclusive intervention methodology to help sustain healthy communities. Her strategy expands beyond mere treatment to focus broadly on eradicating the insects, or the vector, and also effectively involves the community in this process, to build their own future.

Pilar’s innovation is partly based on a microencapsulation technology she created that can be applied to paint and potentially other materials. By microencapsulating the ingredients that eliminate adult insects and arachnoids and stop growth hormones in these insects, her paint forms a protecting seal against the diseases they carry. This paint, called Inesfly, protects against Chagas, the sleeping disease, malaria, dengue fever, and other vector-borne diseases. The paint is applicable to nearly any kind of building, such as homes, stables, apartment buildings, and sewage conducts. Pilar has already proven the effectiveness of Inesfly to eliminate vinchucas (Chagas-carrying insects) from communities in Bolivia. Inesfly is also undergoing certification by the World Health Organization (WHO), which will endorse its effectiveness against the Trypanosoma Cruzy and is also in the last phase of control of the Aedes Anopheles (that transmits malaria). In México the product has been very successful in controlling the Aedes Aegyptien that controls dengue.

Beyond simply removing the carriers of deadly diseases, Pilar is using her methodology as a platform to empower local communities to take control of their own problems. She begins by involving all levels—both within the communities and local organizations—in the process of preparing homes for painting and then the painting. The paint, when used as a tool in her community-building program, serves to raise awareness of the need to keep certain hygienic habits that will avoid a future return of the causes of the disease. Also, as communities organize around improving their housing, Pilar has found an ideal space to encourage people, particularly women, to work together to achieve citizenship in areas that had been previously thought impossible—including equality in rights, basic education, and freedom of speech. The results of this process include the local founding of the Indigenous Women of the World Movement (MOMIM), an organization that empowers indigenous women, as well as increases the impact of other organizations.

Additionally, in 2010 Pilar founded, with the support of the Praxis Pharmaceutical Group, a new foundation called Science and Knowledge in Action (the acronym in Spanish is CyCA), with the objective of supporting health projects to tackle endemic diseases in third world countries.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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