Long-lasting dengue prevention method gets go-ahead in Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

Long-lasting dengue prevention method gets go-ahead in Sri Lanka

A self-sustaining program that helps provide long-term protection for communities from dengue has been given the official go ahead in Sri Lanka, today.

Monash University’s World Mosquito Program (WMP) is set to be rolled out in Sri Lanka following the signing of a Collaboration Agreement (CA) by Sri Lanka’s Secretary, Ministry of Health (MoH), Janaka Sugathadasa at a ceremony in Colombo with Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson.

The agreement advances the partnership between Sri Lanka and the WMP in tackling the threat of mosquito borne-viruses such as, dengue in Sri Lanka.

It comes after Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s announcement last year of the AUD 1 million partnership and funding commitment to help establish the WMP in Sri Lanka.

With support from the Australian Government’s innovation Xchange, WMP will use its ground-breaking research to try the introduction of naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria to Sri Lankan mosquito populations.

Wolbachia prevents dengue from being transmitted between people and also has the ability to block other mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika and Chikungunya.

WMP Program Director Professor Scott O’Neill said, the agreement was an important step in establishing the program in Sri Lanka.

“We are extremely pleased to be working with the National Dengue Control Unit, Ministry of Health, in seeking a long-term solution to the dengue burden in Sri Lanka. We look forward to rolling out the program to local communities in the Colombo area,” he said.

“Mosquito-borne viruses pose a global health threat for a number of reasons and our program provides an affordable solution to improving health security in the region.”

The program will be established across three sites in the Colombo area over the next 12 months, with the first mosquito releases to take place next year.

It’s hoped the program will expand its Wolbachia method to further sites in Sri Lanka in the future, working in collaboration with local partners and subject to approval from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health.

Since 2011, WMP has been conducting field trials using the Wolbachia method. Long term monitoring has shown, when a high proportion of mosquitoes in an area carry Wolbachia, local transmission of the disease has stopped. Sri Lanka is the tenth country to become part of the program, joining Brazil, Colombia, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Fiji, Vanuatu and Kiribati.

About the World Mosquito Program (WMP)

Working to help protect the global community from mosquito-borne diseases, the World Mosquito Program (WMP), formerly the Eliminate Dengue Program (EDP, is a not-for- profit initiative led from Monash University, Australia. It uses a safe, natural and effective method to reduce the threat of viruses such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya. Through our collaborative and innovative approach, we are helping to protect local communities from these diseases in Australia, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands.

Background information:

· Sri Lanka was the first national government to partner directly with Monash University on the World Mosquito Program

· In 2017 the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health reported almost 186,000 suspected cases of dengue, with over 41% of those in the Western Province. (These are only the reported figures)

· The WMP is expanding to 20 countries by 2020 targeting a cost of US$1 per person for its approach

About the WMP’s self-sustaining method

The World Mosquito Program method works by introducing Wolbachia into Aedesaegypti mosquitoes that transmit the Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses. These Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes are released in areas where mosquito-borne viruses are endemic. Once Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes are released, they breed with wild mosquitoes.

Over time, the percentage of mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia grows until it remains high without the need for further releases. The WMP’s self-sustaining method offers a safe, effective and long-term solution to reducing the burden of these diseases.

For more information about the World Mosquito Program, please visit worldmosquitoprogram.org

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