United Nations World Health Organization WHO has introduced new techniques for the elimination of dangerous disease dengue and malaria.
Using a process known as Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) – developed decades ago to target crop-eating insects in the United States – UN researchers have spent the last 10 years adapting it to mosquitoes.
Working with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) tropical diseases programme, they have now drawn up guidelines for nations wanting to tackle disease outbreaks transmitted by the winged insects.
“Countries have already started like Italy, Greece and Mauritius, and others are on the point of doing it, for example the United States, France and Brazil”, said Jeremy Bouyer, medical entomologist at the Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, a joint International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) / Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) initiative.
“We already have evidence that SIT is able to reduce the density of mosquitoes very significantly and now we must prove that it will also impact the transmission of the disease.”
📷 IAEA pic.twitter.com/fCWfB54hHc
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 14, 2019
Florence Fouque, Team leader of the UN-sponsored TDR, the Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, said that it would likely take around four years before it is known whether the pilot tests have been successful in reducing disease transmission.
“Sometimes very low population of mosquito can still transmit disease, so what we have to measure is the impact on the people, and this is what we want to do because it has never been done until now,” she said.
If successful, the potential health benefits could be enormous, Raman Velayudhan, Coordinator, from WHO’s Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) said.
Of the current dengue epidemic, he said: “Many countries in the world have reported an increase, and we have reports from Bangladesh, Brazil, Philippines, and a few African countries and almost 10 other Latin American countries, dengue has continued to increase.”