Nine projects to find new solutions to dengue and Chagas disease
An eco-bio-social approach in Latin America and the Caribbean
Ideas for controlling the vectors that spread dengue and Chagas disease brought researchers from 7 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean together recently in a "Community of Practice". The latest research findings using community-directed approaches were analysed in Merida, Mexico, in a meeting hosted by the Autonomous University of Yucatan.
TDR was awarded US$ 6 million from the Ecosystems and Human Health Program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in 2008 to combine social, ecological and environmental approaches to controlling the vectors – Aedes mosquitoes for dengue and the triatomine bugs for Chagas disease – since there are few other control options. Dengue is emerging as a major public health problem throughout Latin America, particularly in cities. At the same time, Chagas disease is persisting and re-emerging in different ecological zones of the continent, notably in the Northern Cone of Latin America and Central America. Environmental management is particularly important for its control. The researchers are analysing for both diseases the transmission patterns, risk factors, community context and stakeholder environment, and then developing potential solutions country by country.
The dengue studies are in the following 6 countries: Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay, each with different approaches. For example, in Brazil, lids on elevated tanks that replace continuous larviciding (reducing cost and toxins) have been suggested. In Columbia, insecticide-treated nets to cover wash basins and ground tanks may be a better solution.
For the 3 Chagas studies (Guatemala, Bolivia and Mexico), the solutions are based on the cause of infestations and whether they are seasonal or year-round. In Bolivia, the disease is a year round risk because dogs and chickens that carry the bugs live in homes, so one solution may require more community commitment and the spraying of interior walls and beds. In Mexico, a different variety of triatomine bug causes seasonal infestation and may be better controlled with impregnated window curtains and screens.
Each disease and each community has its own set of social, ecological and environmental factors. The TDR/IDRC research initiative is analysing the 7 countries for shared knowledge and approaches and also identifying unique solutions.
The research plan will be finalized in early 2012, with implementation to begin soon afterward. Results are expected by 2014, which will be used to inform policies and help drive necessary changes to improve the control of these devastating vectors. The goal is to have a set of "good practices" for ecosystem-specific dengue and Chagas disease prevention, a research-to-policy framework to build upon for future interventions, and a community of practice on dengue and Chagas disease prevention and control in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is a technical partner of the initiative and will also help with translating the research evidence into policy and practice. The work is being facilitated by a Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine team.
Partner institutions include the Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay, the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Quito, Ecuador, the Universidade Estadual do Ceara, Fortaleza, Brazil, the Fundación Santa Fé, Bogotá, Colombia, the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida, Mexico, the Institut de Recherche et Développement, Centre de Bolivie, La Paz, Bolivia, the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala, and the Instituto de Medicina Tropical "Pedro Kouri", La Habana, Cuba.
For more information, contact Dr Johannes Sommerfeld.