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New WHO Initiative Aims To Stop The Spread Of Malaria Vectors: What You Should Know

According to a 2019 WHO report, India ranks fourth in infections and deaths caused by malaria. Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease, and children, pregnant women and travellers are more prone to the disease [1].

The female Anopheles mosquito transfers Plasmodium parasites from its saliva into the person's blood enters the bloodstream, moves up to the liver and starts reproducing. As malaria is transmitted by blood, it can also be transmitted through a transfusion, an organ transplant, and the use of shared syringes.

Statistics show there has been an increase in mosquito-related diseases globally, like malaria, yellow fever and dengue, in recent years [2].

Preventing oneself from mosquito bites is one of the foremost steps towards preventing dengue. Several mosquito repellent creams, sprays, etc., are available across the market. Still, one needs to be careful about it due to the chemicals in those products.

WHO Initiative To Stop The Spread Of Malaria: What You Should Know

The World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled a new initiative to stop the spread of Anopheles stephensi (An. stephensi) in Africa. An. stephensi is an invasive mosquito species identified by WHO as a 'significant threat' to malaria control and elimination [3].

The new WHO initiative seeks to assist the African continent in addressing An. stephensi effectively through a five-pronged approach, which includes:

(1) increasing collaboration across sectors and borders,
(2) strengthening surveillance to determine the extent of the disease's spread and its transmission factors,
(3) to improve the exchange of information about An. stephensi's presence and efforts to eradicate it,
(4) develop guidelines for national malaria control programs on how to respond to An. Stephensi and
(5) prioritise research to evaluate the impact of interventions and tools against An. stephensi.

According to WHO, national responses to An. stephensi should be integrated with efforts to control malaria and other vector-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and chikungunya [4].

"We are still learning about the presence of An. stephensi and its role in malaria transmission in Africa," said Dr Jan Kolaczinski, head of the Vector Control and Insecticide Resistance unit with the WHO Global Malaria Programme.

"It is important to underscore that we still don't know how far the mosquito species has already spread and how much of a problem it is or could be."

On A Final Note...

An. stephensi is native to parts of South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula but has expanded its range over the past decade to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria, according to WHO.

Unlike other major mosquito vectors of malaria in Africa, An. stephensi thrives in urban environments. However, the fact that more than 40 per cent of Africans live in urban environments has raised concerns about the impact the species may have on controlling and eliminating malaria in the region.

Read more about: who malaria mosquito
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