Vector Control, Sauver des Vies

Vector-borne diseases

Insect vectors are responsible for some of the most devastating diseases in developing countries.

 

Mosquitoes, blackflies, sandflies, ticks, and lice are effective vectors of disease, transmitting pathogens via their blood meals. These Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), are mostly diseases of poverty, and responsible for major economic burdens through disability, death of principal earners and missed educational opportunities for children and young adults, helping to maintain the  poverty trap. It is no coincidence that the countries most affected by these diseases are also amongst the poorest countries in the world.

Malaria is the most serious and costly of the insect-borne diseases with over 200 million cases of people being sick, and currently causing about 660,00 deaths per year, mostly children under the age of 5. The tragedy is, that all these deaths could be stopped with a determined and co-ordinated approach .

 

Vector- borne diseases, most of which are transmitted in and around the home, are best controlled by a combination of vector control  (use of public health insecticides on bednets, or by spraying), medicines and vaccines.

Historically, successful vector-borne disease prevention resulted from management or elimination of vector populations.  Malaria was driven out of the USA and most of Europe in this way.

Where vector control has been consistently applied in the past, the results have been dramatic, especially with early efforts to control malaria by spraying the inside surfaces of houses with insecticides. Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) and long-lasting insecticide treated bednets have been very effective over the last 10 years and are widely regarded as one of the main contributors to the more than 1 million lives saved.

 

In contrast to expenditure and effort on medicine, diagnostic and vaccine development, relatively little attention was given to vector control in the past.  The foresighted establishment of IVCC in 2005, with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation began the process of bringing Vector Control into the mainstream strategy for future eradication of malaria and other vector-borne diseases.

Although WHO emphasizes that new strategies for prevention and control of vector-borne diseases should be through “integrated vector management”,   most technologies are at least 25 years old.