African ministers endorsed a plan for combat vector-borne diseases

With countries in Africa experiencing increased cases and deaths due to malaria and other vector-borne diseases, 47 health ministers endorsed a plan, in the form of the Framework on the Implementation of the Global Vector Control Response. 

The plan contains 10 priorities for reducing the burden and threat of vector-borne diseases in the region through locally adapted and sustainable practices.

While the impacts of climate change have helped expand the environments favorable to the vectors, the previous package of approaches to prevention and elimination for vector-borne diseases did not prioritize vector control interventions. This was largely due to human resource, technical and infrastructural capacity gaps in vector surveillance and research.

 “In the extraordinary push to improve access to case management services for vector-borne diseases and reduce disease transmission through protective interventions, we lost sight of disease surveillance and research,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for África during the 69th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, which is taking place in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo. She recalled that effective vector control along with stronger diagnosis and case management reduced the malaria cases and deaths in the WHO African Region between 2000 and 2015.

The framework’s priorities take into consideration the alarming challenges of insecticide resistance, the new mosquito behaviors, environmental risks (unplanned urbanization), health system weaknesses, the weak entomological monitoring and evidence for decision-making and the depleted expertise and the dearth of domestic resources to sustain interventions and collaboration.

The African region, according to WHO, has a troubling high burden of vector-borne diseases, primarily malaria, yellow fever, chikungunya, dengue, and schistosomiasis. While the risk of transmission for Zika virus disease remains high, information on the incidence and trends of the disease is limited. The 10 WHO Member States with the highest burden of malaria reported an estimated 3.5 million more malaria cases in 2017 than the previous year. More than 440 million people are at risk of yellow fever in the region, despite the availability of a vaccine and improved surveillance.

Photo: WHO

In response to the increasing threat of vector-borne diseases, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on May 2017 on the Global Vector Control Response from 2017 to 2030 strategy to strengthen vector management through increased capacity, improved surveillance, better coordination and integrated actions across sectors and diseases.