Part­ner­ship to See Peo­ple Pro­tected from Mosquito-borne Dis­eases

The project will be rolled out across the Suva-Nau­sori cor­ri­dor over the next 12 months in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Gov­ern­ment and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties World Mosquito Pro­gramme Western Pa­cific pro­gramme man­ager, Geoff Wil­son said the project used Wol­bachia, a

Fiji Sun - - Nation - KOGO FUJIKI Edited by Ru­si­ate Mataika Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

An in­no­va­tive part­ner­ship be­tween the Min­istry of Health and Med­i­cal Ser­vices and the World Mosquito Pro­gramme will see a project pro­tect­ing peo­ple from mosquito-borne dis­eases im­ple­mented in Fiji.

The project will be rolled out across the Suva-Nau­sori cor­ri­dor over the next 12 months in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Gov­ern­ment and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

The $12.5 mil­lion Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment-funded ini­tia­tive will also see projects es­tab­lished in Van­u­atu and Kiri­bati.

World Mosquito Pro­gramme Western Pa­cific pro­gramme man­ager, Geoff Wil­son said the project used Wol­bachia, a bac­terium which blocks mos­qui­toes from trans­mit­ting deadly dis­eases to peo­ple. “The World Mosquito Pro­gramme’s field teams re­lease male and fe­male mos­qui­toes with Wol­bachia over a num­ber of weeks,” he said.

“These mos­qui­toes then breed with wild mosquito pop­u­la­tions, pass­ing the bac­te­ria from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion.”

Mr Wil­son said the Wol­bachi­acar­ry­ing mos­qui­toes would pro­tect peo­ple from dengue and other harm­ful mosquito-borne dis­eases like Zika and Chikun­gunya. “Mos­qui­toes with Wol­bachia are less able to trans­mit dis­eases to peo­ple, so the risk of out­breaks in these com­mu­ni­ties is re­duced,” he said.

Ben­e­fit

“We are con­fi­dent that our Wol­bachia method – a self-sus­tain­ing, long-term ap­proach – will help to re­duce the global bur­den of mosquito-borne dis­eases.”

This year, around 2200 dengue cases have been re­ported in Fiji, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Health.

Min­istry se­nior health in­spec­tor, Kel­era Salusalu­ni­toba Oli said the preva­lence of dengue was pre­dicted to get worse.

“The dengue prob­lem is an­tic­i­pated to get worse be­cause of cli­mate change,” she said.

“With in­creases in glob­al­i­sa­tion, Suva Har­bour will become even busier with po­ten­tial to bring more harm­ful dis­eases from over­seas.” Mr Wil­son said re­sults from past projects of­fered great prom­ise for the Suva pro­gramme. “Long-term mon­i­tor­ing by our re­searchers show that Wol­bachia is sus­tain­ing it­self at high lev­els in the ma­jor­ity of our in­ter­na­tional project sites up to six years af­ter ap­pli­ca­tion,” he said.

“In these ar­eas, there has been no ev­i­dence of the lo­cal spread of dengue.”

The World Mosquito Pro­gramme global com­mu­ni­ca­tions team has con­firmed the Suva project is in its “very early stages” and is cur­rently set­ting up a lo­cal team and lab­o­ra­tory space.

Over the next few months, the not­for-profit unit will dis­cuss their work with peo­ple across Suva to se­cure com­mu­nity sup­port on the project.

With the ad­di­tion of Fiji, Kiri­bati and Van­u­atu, the World Mosquito Pro­gramme is now op­er­at­ing projects in 10 coun­tries around the world.

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