With an alarming rate of over one million deaths from mosquito vector disease worldwide, medical experts and epidemiologists in Africa have suggested that total control of the insect in Africa through proper planning is the way out.
This was the drive seen at the just concluded Pan-African Mosquito Control Association third annual conference held in Lagos from September 6 to September 9.
The Director General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Mr. Babatunde Salako, said malaria was causing lots of morbidity and mortality among children especially, alongside other haemorrhagic fevers, adding that there was need to ensure proper control of the vector.
Speaking at a three-day conference on the theme, ‘Control of Mosquito Vectors: Opportunities and Challenges in the 21st century’, Salako said owing to recent concerns of malaria, it was important that new research was conducted.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Director, NIMR, Dr. Sam Awolola, pointed out that the first challenge was not funding, but government realising the importance of research. “It is only when they realise the role research can play in a developing country that they would be able to appropriate funding for it, and make the environment enabling both in human and infrastructural capacity.
“But because of the biological threats that programmes are facing which is the increase in spread of resistance in other insecticide and the outdoor resting of mosquitoes, new tools are needed. Until these tools become available, we should continue with the current ones and build capacity to use those tools as well,” he said.
In brainstorming on the issue to inform government policy, Awolola said, “We should also be happy to know that we have made lot of progress in disease mortality and morbidity due to malaria from use of the current tools we have, bed nets and indoor residual spray and use of lava source management.”
He continued that the World Health Organisation (WHO) was responsible for certain policies, but implementation has been the issue.
With yellow fever, malaria and the recent spread of zika virus to other countries, the DG suggested that surveillance should be strong henceforth in Nigeria as efforts to monitor zika virus and ensure the country is protected against the virulent disease.
Forging ahead with plans, former Vector Control Officer, WHO, Dr. Abraham Mnzava, highlighted poor policy implementation at country level and lack of human resource capacity and right infrastructure as major challenges to controlling mosquito vector in the sub region.
He explained that often time, policy recommendations are made by the World Health Organisation, but implementing them at the country level requires the right skills to translate into action most of these policies. “It is one thing to come up with a policy and another to implement.”