Mosquito nets are common in Uganda. The fine mesh draped over bed posts in the above photo is one such net. For those unfamiliar with mosquito nets, their purpose is singular:

They keep mosquitoes out.

…which takes on a greater purpose in the global South. Malaria-bearing mosquitoes are a known quantity here. Fatal if not treated quickly and correctly, malaria is as scary as any other tropical disease and more insidious because of its unassuming transmission medium. As awful as the disease itself is, antimalarial treatment alone is worth avoiding. Many people familiar with “quinine” will attest to psychotic side effects.

Let’s go back to netting, but stop momentarily to talk about doors. It is an accepted fact that doors must be closed to be effective.


You could drive a bus of mosquitoes through that door.

A mosquito net must be tucked under the mattress to be effective. In this case, the bed’s posts are too far apart to tuck netting under the mattress (thus my original problem). Few, if any, nets of that size would be available.

My first thought was to hang it from the ceiling. That would require purchasing an eyelet to screw into the ceiling. My Scottish blood went pale and clutched its metaphorical wallet. Screws in the bedposts were also out of the question, since my collection of saved and leftover screws, a testament to frugal advice from my Dutch opa, was back in Canada.

I knew my heritage would eventually cave to self-preservation. However, after a long night spent trying (unsuccessfully) to kill a single mosquito inside the net, staring at the bedposts like a lazy lion might watch for prey to walk within claw’s reach, I reached a conclusion.



Saying vs. Doing

Canada’s Conservative party has never struck me as one to be tough on corporate mistakes. So you can understand my surprise in hearing that Health Canada is gearing up to sign an bill into law that allows parliament to fine offending corporations $5 million dollars per day.

Take a moment to get your jaw off the floor, and then consider taping it into place. The bill will also allow the government to dump executives of said offending corporations into jail.

Who are the potential offenders? Pharmaceutical companies. Yes; the government is taking at at Big Pharma. I still don’t believe it, or at least don’t believe the bill will make it into law.

The bill is being advertised as “Vanessa’s Law” because it was tabled after a minister’s daughter died because of a prescription medication (Prepulsid).

The full list of what Health Canada can do to is as follows:

  • Require mandatory adverse drug reaction reporting by health-care institutions.
  • Allow the federal government to recall unsafe products.
  • Provide the courts with discretion to impose even stronger fines if violations were caused intentionally.
  • Compel drug companies to revise labels to clearly reflect health risk.
  • Compel drug companies to do further testing on a product, including when issues are identified with certain at-risk populations such as children.
  • Impose new penalties for unsafe products, including jail time and new fines up to $5 million a day. That’s an increase from the current $5,000 a day.

The Problem

Corporate decision making. Many companies have shareholders that also share in running the company, usually forming boards of directors and things of that nature. Further complicating any implication in criminal negligence, individual parts of the company have individuals responsible for what happens in that part of the company. So the question is “Who do we throw in jail?”

To be honest, I hope Health Canada has serious reach when it comes to narrowing down the candidates in that kind of search. Criminalizing something does not always halt that activity, so saying it is illegal is not going to be enough and there had better be ways of following through on what I think are big promises.

The Bottom Line

I like what is being proposed. It seems to protect consumers and is designed to keep appropriate agencies informed. Potential fines and jail time are great added value.

That said, I think following through on jail time for the right person will be like trying to get directions from a deaf mute that knows excellent sign language that is definitely not the sign you learned in a university elective.