Developing multi-sectoral approaches to prevent and control vector-borne diseases

TDR news item
6 July 2017

Researchers and representatives from institutions in more than 25 countries – half from low- and middle-income countries – and 10 United Nations organizations are working together to develop new multi-sectoral approaches to control diseases transmitted by vectors like mosquitoes and flies, called vector-borne diseases (VBDs).

“It’s easy to say we should work across sectors but how do we do that? That is the challenge. We need to understand who should be involved and who does what.”

Dr Zee Leung, International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

These diseases account for about one quarter of all infectious diseases, with more than 80% of the world’s population at risk from at least one VBD, and more than half at risk from two or more. These risks have increased due to population mobility, land use and deforestation, extractive industries, changes in agricultural and water management practices, and climate change.

Because the transmission patterns are driven by these relationships, these multi-sectoral approaches are an attempt to develop shared goals and strategies that should be more sustainable.

TDR is working with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH).

Implementing piped water supplies in Mexican housing to prevent disease transmission
Implementing piped water supplies in Mexican housing to prevent disease transmission
Credit: Anne Wilson

Six groups have been awarded funding to conduct systematic reviews in different areas, as a first step toward identifying what works and what still needs to be analysed. Recent work offers promise, such as projects to improve housing and water supplies in Mexico, and reducing mosquito breeding sites in Brazil.

Participants of the workshop on multi-sectoral approaches for prevention and control of vector-borne diseases
Participants of the workshop on multi-sectoral approaches for prevention and control of vector-borne diseases

A meeting held in Geneva 26-28 June brought together representatives from different sectors involved in the prevention and control of VBDs to discuss a strategic way forward. The group discussed and finalized plans for the upcoming reviews, which should help illuminate research priorities and topics that could be the subjects of future grant calls.

Dr Zee Leung from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), reminded participants, “It’s easy to say we should work across sectors but how do we do that? That is the challenge. We need to understand who should be involved and who does what.”

The commissioned reviews cover these 4 areas:

Industrial activities and VBD transmission, with a special focus on gold mining activities that are strongly disturbing the malaria ecosystems in Africa, Asia and Latin America

  • Ghana, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the UK and USA team: James Logan (Primary Investigator, UK), Robert Jones, Michael Macdonald, Michael Bangs, Lucy Tusting, Sylvester Segbaya

Integrated strategies for the prevention and control of VBDs within the context of eco-bio-social approaches

  • Colombia and Peru team: Alfonso J. Rodríguez-Morales (Primary Investigator, Peru), Janice Natalie Seinfeld Lemlig, Vicente Benites Zapata, Josmel Pacheco Mendoza, Edward Mezones-Holguin

Displacement of people and consequences on VBD transmission, examining knowledge on the impact of migration (for reasons of economic or civil unrest or war), displacement of temporary workers and any other population movements

  • USA and Yemen team: Rashad Abdul-Ghani (Primary Investigator, Yemen), John C. Beier, Audrey E. Lenhart, Mohammed A.K. Mahdy, Samira Al-Eryani, Abdulsamad Alkawri
  • Australia, Malaysia and Switzerland team: Cho Naing (Primary Investigator, Malaysia), Maxine Whittaker, Marcel Tanner

Inter-sectoral collaborations for the prevention and control of VBDs, and how stakeholders are working together to achieve the implementation of a global strategy

  • Philippines team: Carl Abelardo Antonio (Primary Investigator), Amiel Nazer Bermudez, Kim Cochon, Evalyn Roxas, Maria Sonia Salamat
  • Australia and Indonesia team:Herdiana Kes (Primary Investigator, Indonesia), Jana Fitria Kartika Sari, Maxine Whittaker

For more information, contact:
Jamie Guth
TDR Communications Manager
Telephone: +41 79 441 2289
E-mail: guthj@who.int.