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
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.
“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.