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ANNOUNCEMENTS:::

TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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ORAL CONTRACEPTIVE FOR MOSQUITOES

A study  in  Kenya  is  giving  oral contraceptives to male mosquitoes to prevent fertilization of eggs and  reproduction. It is a phase one  project of the Kenya Medical Research  Institute  (KEMRI) which  commenced  in  May  2012  to sterilize male anopheles mosquitoes in a bid to reduce malaria prevalence.

KEMRI's  Center  for  Biotechnology's principal  research  officer,  Dr.  Luna Kamau, said they are concluding laboratory  tests  on the male mosquitoes  which do not feed on blood, like the  females, but on sugar. These male mosquitoes  are  fed  on  nectar  from plants  and  flowers  mixed  with  the contraceptives.

"We are using some special containers with sugar meal mixed with the contraceptive and an attractant in our study," said Kamau, adding that KEMRI has been testing  the impotency effect of the contraceptive on the mosquitoes to  test if indeed they are not able to fertilize an egg.

Dr Kamau said the contraceptive  has been  found  not  to  prevent  sperm production but  can stop sperm function.  "We  are  testing  the  sperm production and sperm function because we have  realized the contraceptive does not prevent its production but affects the function.”

Phase one has been conducted at a cost of  Sh8.5million.  After  this  phase, KEMRI  plans  to  apply for funds amounting  to Sh85m to conduct  the second phase of the research in  open fields.  

“If we succeed to get funds for  phase two of the research, we shall go to the open fields and monitor  their behaviour in nature. This is intended to last another two years," she said.

Information  on  the  United  Against Malaria  website  indicates  that  for almost 15 years, scientists in the world have had the ability to sterilise mosquitoes and  release  them into the field. They hope that the sterility genes can be  passed to future offspring to eventually eliminate the insects.

Several mosquito disease vector species have been genetically-adapted successfully, and there are instances of field testing of the insects. For instance, in 2000/2001, India reportedly created sterile mosquitoes. But unfortunately the project did not, in the end,  release any of the modified malaria-causing  mosquitoes  into  the wild.

Vector control issues are critical in any meaningful  prevention  strategy  and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that, in areas targeted for malaria vector control, all persons at risk should be protected by insecticide  treated  nets  (ITNs)  or indoor residual spraying (IRS).

The WHO in its World Malaria Report, for last year, however noted  that the “choice of ITNs or IRS  depends  on  a number  of entomological,  epidemiological and operational factors, including seasonality of transmission, housing density and distribution, and insecticide susceptibility of anopheline vectors.”

It added that areas of high malaria risk are considered “most in need of vector control  interventions.  The  need  is most obvious for  sub-Saharan Africa, where the charcteristics  o f  the predominant  malaria vectors and the widespread  presence of malaria risk indicate  that  almost  all  of  the  800 million  people at risk would benefit from vector control with ITNs or IRS.”

The  WHO  also  noted  that  given  the heterogeneity of malaria transmission in most malaria-endemic  areas outside  Africa,  “it  is  challenging  to estimate  the  population  at  risk  of malaria  and  vector  control  needs, including ITNs.”

“Vector control through ITNs and  IRS is a core component of NMCPs  today, and the success of these interventions depends on the continued effectiveness of the insecticides used.

Currently,  global  malaria-control efforts rely heavily on a single class of insecticide: the pyrethroids. This class of  insecticide  is  used  in  most  IRS programmes, and it is the only insecticide used in WHO-recommended  long  lasting insecticidal nets  (LLINs),”  the  global body added.

It  said  promising  new  insecticide formulations and new  vector control paradigms are in the pipeline, facilitated  by  product  development partnerships  such as the Innovative Vector Control Consortium and other research  institutes,  and  commercial sector partners.

“To facilitate and guide the  develop- ment  of  these  new  products  and approaches,  WHO  established  the Vector  Control  Advisory  Group  in 2013,” it added.

The  fight  against  mosquitoes  and malaria has still a long way to go and the  Kenyan  government  has  developed  a  10-year  National  Malaria Strategy (NMS) 2009-2017 to reduce morbidity  and  mortality  associated with  the  disease.  According  to  the National malaria factsheet on malaria, 25 million out of the 34 million people are at risk of malaria.

 A Kenyan fact sheet released recently puts malaria as accounting  for 30-50 per cent of all outpatient  attendance and 20 per cent of all  admissions to health facilities in Kenya.

Ministry of Health statistics indicate that an estimated 170 million working days are lost to the disease each  year.  Its  goal  was  to  reduce morbidity and  mortality associated with malaria by 30% by 2009 and to maintain it in 2017.

Interestingly,  the  factsheet  also indicates that current general knowledge among Kenyans on malaria  transmission  is  at  95  per cent; yet only 10  percent know that malaria  causes  anaemia,  neonatal and maternal death.

- ROSE AKINYI - KENYA.
 

Editions: 
Twelfth Edition